The first line from this CNBC report really says it all:
President Donald Trump is hoping to block German luxury carmakers from the U.S. market
Well, that seems crazy!
So what’s the story? According to a German business magazine with the very real and 100% not made up title “WirtschaftsWoche,” Trump told French President Emanuel Macron that a goal of his trade policies was to stop “Mercedez-Benz models from driving down Fifth Avenue in New York.” That comment allegedly came last month when the two leaders met, and while the details are vague (details are always vague with Trump), it’s surely more than coincidence that about two weeks ago, the Department of Commerce began investigating whether car imports “threaten to impair the national security” of the country.
If the answer is yes, the end result could be tariffs as high as 25 percent. And the whole “national security” justification was the same rationale used to justify metal imports tariffs earlier this year.
It remains to be seen whether this is one of those comments that Trump actually follows up on, or if it was more extemporaneous bluster that we’re all over-analyzing. Regardless, the European auto sector took a significant hit today, and the fact that German companies like Volkswagen and Porsche were hit hardest proves that Trump’s remarks have already had consequences. And Merecedes, who just opened up a North American headquarters in Atlanta, have to be terrified.
And one other question lingers: If it happens, how would Europe retaliate?