President Donald Trump on Thursday appeared to stoke concerns about the nation’s trade relationship with Germany.
Media outlets reported that the former business mogul took another swipe at Deutschland because of its trade surplus with the U.S.
During his meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, President Trump said “The Germans are bad, very bad,” according to the German news magazine Der Spiegel.
For some in the Upstate and in South Carolina, the president’s comment will likely add to the heap of emotions still lingering from statements he made in January, when he was still President-elect Donald Trump.
In an interview with German newspaper Bild, President Trump blasted BMW and its cohorts in the German automotive industry for not assembling more cars in this country.
He said he would impose a 35 percent border tax on vehicles imported to the U.S. by BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen.
BMW’s one and only U.S. plant is located in Spartanburg County. State and local officials were vocal in their defense of the automaker’s economic impact on South Carolina and the U.S.
President Trump’s most recently reported comment drew a response from S.C. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ted Pitts on Friday.
“South Carolina is proof that we are better when we have strong partnerships with German companies,” Pitts said in the statement. “Instead of criticizing our German partners, the president should come back to South Carolina where he can see firsthand what an incredible impact companies such as BMW, Daimler, the Schaeffler Group, and others can have on a state and its people.”
In the wake of President Trump’s comments in January, Kenn Sparks, manager of U.S. Corporate Communications for BMW North America, issued a statement in response.
“The issue is about commitment and BMW made a significant commitment to the U.S. when it began manufacturing vehicles in America more than 22 years ago,” Sparks said. “Our U.S. plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, is now our largest in the world, producing more than any other BMW plant — 411,000 vehicles in 2016. We export 70 percent of our U.S. production to 140 markets around the world. The annual export value is nearly $10 billion, greater than any other auto company in the U.S. according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Our U.S. plant employs 8,800 people with 800 of those jobs added in the last 1 1/2 years. BMW is currently investing another $1 billion in our U.S. plant to further expand production and add capacity for a new model, the BMW X7, which goes into production in 2018.”
Sparks also said in January that BMW’s total capital investment in the local plant, which is the production hub of it X3, X4, X5 and X5 Sports Activity Vehicles, was $7.5 billion to date.
“Some 70,000 Americans depend on the BMW Group for their livelihood working in our plant, our dealerships, our suppliers and our corporate facilities across the country,” he said.
Sparks said Friday that his original statement “still stands.”
He did add that the X models assembled at the local plant accounted for almost 38 percent of BMW’s U.S. sales in April.