Germany hits back at Trump criticism of refugee policy and BMW tariff threat

The Guardian reports: Berlin has mounted a staunch defence of its policies after Donald Trump criticised the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, for her stance during the refugee crisis and threatened a 35% tariff on BMW cars imported into the US.

Germany’s deputy chancellor and minister for the economy, Sigmar Gabriel, said on Monday morning that a tax on German imports would lead to a “bad awakening” among US carmakers since they were reliant on transatlantic supply chains.

“I believe BMW’s biggest factory is already in the US, in Spartanburg [South Carolina],” Gabriel, leader of the centre-left Social Democratic party, told the Bild newspaper in a video interview.

“The US car industry would have a bad awakening if all the supply parts that aren’t being built in the US were to suddenly come with a 35% tariff. I believe it would make the US car industry weaker, worse and above all more expensive. I would wait and see what the Congress has to say about that, which is mostly full of people who want the opposite of Trump.” [Continue reading…]

In 2014, Automotive News reported from Spartanburg: BMW will invest $1 billion in its factory here by 2016 to expand capacity by 100,000 units and add production of a fifth crossover, the X7 — making the plant its biggest worldwide.

Norbert Reithofer, CEO of BMW AG, said Spartanburg’s annual production will top that of BMW’s Dingolfing, Germany, plant, which can build 350,000 vehicles a year.

BMW’s current capacity has just been boosted to 350,000 units. Last year, the plant produced 297,326 vehicles.

Reithofer said building 450,000 vehicles a year will mean the equivalent of “a whole new plant” of output beyond last year’s total.

“This is the fifth expansion since production began 20 years ago and represents another major investment,” said Manfred Erlacher, president of BMW Manufacturing Co.

The plant has begun building the new X4 crossover, which is to go on sale in June in the United States. Spartanburg also produces the X3, X5 and X6.

Harald Krueger, BMW board member for production, said the group has 28 factories in 13 countries. More than 70 percent of the plant’s production is exported to more than 140 countries worldwide, he said.

“And we are really proud that this plant annually exports vehicles valuing over $7.5 billion — which, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, makes BMW the largest U.S. vehicle exporter by value to non-NAFTA countries. ‘Freude am Fahren’ — made in America,” Krueger said. [Continue reading…]

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