Apoplectic Trade Reactions From German Auto-Sector…


Within the German economy the auto-sector holds the largest political influence.  Because of this dynamic all German politicians kneel at the knee of the big industrial auto manufacturers.  It has been said that losing support from within the auto-sector is much worse on a German politician than losing support from party or parliament.

Because of this dynamic; and specifically because the German auto-sector is dependent on the United States as their biggest customer, President Trump holds leverage over German Chancellor Angela Merkel.  This makes Fraulein Merkel unhappy.

President Trump wants three EU issues resolved: 1) Germany to contribute the minimum 2% of GDP for their own NATO defense.  2) Germany/EU to support enhanced sanctions against Iran; and  3) President Trump wants all German/EU protectionist trade barriers and tariffs lowered or eliminated – and new trade deals negotiated.

To gain momentum on these initiatives, President Trump is using the economics of trade as leverage.  Trump has suggested a 20% tariff on all EU automobiles shipped into the U.S. [The same standard now likely proposed toward Canada]  The German auto-sector, and as a consequence the German economy, simply cannot survive without low cost access to the U.S. market, their biggest customer.

Immediately following the election (December 2016), President Trump warned BMW (and others) about opening a manufacturing plant in Mexico; Trump suggested such a decision might backfire.  BMW ignored the warning and contracted with Mexico for an auto plant with intentions to use NAFTA to bring the completed cars to market.

The plant is anticipated to be operational in 2019; however, it is now increasingly likely that NAFTA will be dissolved and President Trump is threatening a 20% auto-tariff to any imported cars.   Accordingly, despite the prior warning, BMW is now going bananas:

BMW was planning on using the NAFTA loophole to assemble EU auto parts in Mexico for duty-free transport into the U.S.   However, now there’s a likelihood the BMW sedans planned to be built in Mexico could be subject to U.S. tariffs and they cannot gain benefit from the NAFTA loophole.

BMW builds SUV’s in Spartanburg, South Carolina.  The reason they build them there is due to a 25% pre-Trump existing tariff on imported SUV’s.   It looks like BMW made a bad decision to build an car plant in Mexico; although their position as expressed within the Reuters article fails to mention this aspect at all.   Obviously they don’t mention the 2016 warning from President-Elect Trump either.  {{{snicker}}}

Meanwhile, President Trump just keeps applying more layers of winnamin leverage upon the desk of German Chancellor Angela Merkel:

Poland has offered to host a smaller contingent of U.S. forces; and Poland already fully meets their obligations to NATO defense spending.    Funny how that happens.

The Pentagon is analyzing the cost and impact of a large-scale withdrawal or transfer of American troops stationed in Germany, amid growing tensions between President Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to people familiar with the work.

The effort follows Trump’s expression of interest in removing the troops, made during a meeting earlier this year with White House and military aides, U.S. officials said. Trump was said to have been taken aback by the size of the U.S. presence, which includes about 35,000 active-duty troops, and complained that other countries were not contributing fairly to joint security or paying enough to NATO.

Word of the assessment has alarmed European officials, who are scrambling to determine whether Trump actually intends to reposition U.S. forces or whether it is merely a negotiating tactic ahead of a NATO summit in Brussels, where Trump is again likely to criticize U.S. allies for what he deems insufficient defense spending.  (read more)

Anyone noticing a pattern?

Interestingly, two Canadians are able to connect the dots very easily.

Ezra Levant of Rebel Media and Manny Montenegrino, President & CEO Think Sharp Inc. discuss the dynamic and obvious comparisons and parallels.

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“Complicated business folks,… Complicated business”

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