The CEOs of BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen can expect a trip to the White House soon, according to Bloomberg. With trade talks between the US and the EU at a standstill, Donald Trump has reportedly decided that going mano a mano with Europe's actual political leaders wasn't getting anywhere, and hopes leaning on some business figures will get better results.
Auto tariffs are a key point of contention between the two sides of the Atlantic, with the US being a major market for all of Germany's Big Three automakers — BMW in particular. Though Trump decided last week to delay imposing tariffs on auto imports, it's an uneasy truce that's likely to collapse if a wider agreement isn't reached with the EU in the coming months.
Going to the heads of the German motor industry is a move that makes sense
It wouldn't be the first time BMW has had reason to take issue with the US administration over trade; in September the company revised its financial projections, citing the tough business climate caused by the US–China trade tit-for-tat. Bavaria would obviously be keen to ensure no more obstacles are placed between it and its customers.
Neither the White House nor any of the companies involved have yet confirmed that there's a meeting on the cards, but it's believed that the auto leaders have already begun discussions with the German government in preparation for an official invitation.
Going to the heads of the German motor industry is a move that makes sense; the BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen are never slow to put pressure on the German government, and their influence on the country's economy means the Bundestag would be foolish not to listen. At the same time, all three companies are set up in the US — BMW in Spartanburg, SC, Daimler in Tuscaloosa, AL, and Volkswagen in Chattanooga, TN, giving them something to bargain with.
Any meeting will not be arranged until after Thanksgiving, but how soon afterward — or whether the rumored meeting will ever take place — is anybody's guess. And that's before we start asking whether anything's actually going to be agreed.