President Donald Trump is preparing to block German luxury car imports into the United States and potentially look to end the sale of the vehicles in general. If successful, the move could potentially kill 10’s of thousands of U.S. jobs. An exclusive report from German magazine WirtschaftsWoche cites several unnamed U.S. and European diplomats.
According to the story, Trump spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron in April and said his trade policy would include stopping the production of Mercedes-Benz models that are brought to the United States from Germany.
Two weeks after Trump met with Macron the U.S. Department of Commerce launched an investigation to determine if automobile imports “threaten to impair the national security.” Make no mistake about it, that claim is nothing more than an attempt to levy upwards of 25% tariffs just as Trump has with imported steel and aluminum.
Following the report, Europe auto sector stocks were trading down with German automakers feeling the brunt of the news. Among automobile manufacturers under attack are Daimler, Porsche, and Volkswagen.
At the time of this report, there are currently 34,015 people who work for Daimler in North America. Most troubling for these works is a statement in the report in which Trump told Macron he wants to stop all production of the vehicles to “prevent Mercedes-Benz models from driving down Fifth Avenue in New York.” If Trump were able to find a legal loophole to stop Mercedes production in the United States the careers of 34,015 Americans would be at risk.
Trump has made his hatred of Mercedes known since at least January 2017, when, prior to his inauguration, he said, “When you walk down Fifth Avenue, everyone has a Mercedes-Benz in front of their house… How many Chevrolets do you see in Germany? Not too many, maybe none at all, you do not see anything over there, it’s a one-way street.”
The President then attacked U.S. free trade policies. “I love free trade, but it must be a smart trade for me to call it fair.”
News of the attack on German automakers arrives just hours before Trump is set to impose 25% steel and 10% aluminum tariffs on product arriving from Mexico, Canada, and the European Union.
The White House has not responded to requests for comment at this time.