US President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser acknowledged that the president said Germany is “very bad” when it comes to flooding the U.S. with cars, but insisted it wasn’t an attack on one of America’s most-important allies.
“He said, ‘They’re very bad on trade,’ but he doesn’t have a problem with Germany,” Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council. “He said his dad is from Germany. He said, ‘I don’t have a problem with Germany, I have a problem with German trade’.”
Earlier, Germany’s Der Spiegel reported that Trump threatened to stop German car sales in America during a meeting with European officials in Brussels on Thursday.
“The Germans are bad, very bad,” Spiegel quotes the American President as saying.
“Look at the millions of cars they sell in the US, and we’ll stop that,” he added, according to the newspaper, citing participants in the meeting.
According to a report from German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, the EU officials were horrified at the extent of the Americans’ lack of awareness of European trade policy.
Apparently, it was unclear to the guests EU countries concluded trade agreements only jointly, the newspaper said.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also denied Trump was hostile to Germany in the Brussels talks.
“He did not say the Germans were behaving badly,” Juncker said, adding that the reports in the German media were exaggerated.
In January, the US president threatened to impose a 35 percent import tax on German cars.
“If you want to build cars in the world, then I wish you all the best. You can build cars for the United States, but for every car that comes to the USA, you will pay 35 percent tax,” Trump said in an interview with German newspaper Bild.
“I would tell BMW that if you are building a factory in Mexico and plan to sell cars to the USA, without a 35 percent tax, then you can forget that,” Trump said.
Trump is also angered by Germany’s €253 billion trade surplus, which he says comes at a loss for the US.
In March, he signed executive orders to review the causes of the US trade deficits with some of its largest trading partners – including China and Germany – and push for stricter enforcement of US anti-dumping laws. The US trade deficit in goods and services topped $500 billion in 2016.