The Trump administration has been a tough crowd when it comes to Germany's policies. The president has accused the country of an unfair trade surplus, calling Germans "bad, very bad."
Yesterday, an audience of Germans said "right back atcha." During an event hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was delivering remarks remotely via video, when the feed was disconnected mid-speech.
The audience then laughed and clapped, Bloomberg reports.
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In his remarks, Ross, who had pulled out of a physical appearance at the last minute, was reiterating President Trump's criticisms of Germany's trade surplus. He was scheduled for a 10-minute slot and was cut off after 20.
“That was the U.S. secretary of commerce, who had promised us a 10-minute statement,” organizer Werner M. Bahlsen told the audience. “As you saw, he spoke a bit slowly, so it took a bit longer. Now we look forward to the chancellor’s speech.”
Merkel then took the stage. She “rejected [Ross’s] criticism of Germany’s surplus,” says Bloomberg, then advocated direct investment in the U.S. by German companies.
Trump has repeatedly excoriated what he believes to be Germany's unfair trade practices. Merkel and others have tried to explain that Germany is part of the European Union and therefore can't trade individually with the U.S. — it's the whole bloc, or no one.
In May, Trump called Germany "bad, very bad" for selling so many cars in the U.S. and vowed to put a stop to it. He overlooked the fact that most German cars sold in the United States are actually made in the United States — and that a sales ban would cut hundreds of jobs and billions in tax revenue from Mercedes-Benz and BMW plants in Tennessee and Alabama.