Handelsblatt Exclusive Economics Minister Threatens to Play U.S. Governors Against Trump

Brigitte Zypries, Germany's economics minister, said U.S. states such as South Carolina have an interest in opposing protectionist policies that could jeopardize jobs created by German automakers.
Economics Minister Brigitte Zypries, picture source: DPA

Brigitte Zypries, Germany’s center-left economics minister, said in an interview that she would lobby U.S. states to pressure President Donald Trump if he moves ahead with threats to impose imports tariffs.

“We will make a trip to the United States and will also contact the states,” Ms. Zypries told Handelsblatt. “The governor of South Carolina, for example, will have no interest in BMW reducing jobs there.”

In an interview with European press last month, Mr. Trump criticized Germany’s trade relationship with the United States. The U.S. president asked why there are so many Mercedes in New York, but so few Chevrolets on the roads in Germany.

Mr. Trump then criticized BMW’s plans to build a new plant in Mexico and threatened to impose a tariff on German cars imported from Mexico to the United States.

BMW, Daimler and VW, however, have built large plants in South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee in recent decades. The automakers have directly created more than 30,000 jobs in these states and indirectly support up to 250,000 jobs when car parts suppliers and other industries are counted.

Mr. Trump’s top trade adviser, Peter Navarro, also accused Germany of using a weak euro to exploit the United States and E.U. countries. Chancellor Angela Merkel, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann have all rejected Mr. Navarro’s accusations.