With reviews of his performance ranging from "bizarre" to "trainwreck" to "the least effective since 1949," President Trump will return home from his first foreign trip on Sunday. He made quite a splash at the NATO summit in Belgium, where on Thursday he told the president of the European Union, Jean-Claude Juncker, that “the Germans are bad, very bad. Look at the millions of cars that they’re selling in the USA. Horrible. We’re gonna stop that.”
The president apparently didn't realize that the majority of German cars are made in the United States. It's unclear if Juncker filled him in.
According to Daniel Gross of Slate, German automaker BMW has a plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, which it says is its largest in the world. The plant produces about 34,000 cars a month, 26,000 of which are sold in the United States. "The upshot: By exporting more finished vehicles from the United States than it imports to the United States, BMW may be helping to lower America’s trade deficit," he writes.
At the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, American workers produced more than 300,000 vehicles last year — around 25,000 per month. Last month, Mercedes-Benz sold 27,000 cars in the U.S. This year, a $1.3 billion expansion of the plant is expected to be completed, which will add 300 jobs to the 3,800 full-time positions already there.
Meanwhile, Volkswagen has a plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which makes the Passat and Atlas SUV. Its production numbers aren't available, but VW sells around 27,000 cars per month in the U.S. But stats on employment are clear: Volkswagen says it employs 12,500 workers at the plant and provides $12 billion in income growth and $1.4 billion in tax revenue to Tennessee.
Today, White House economic advisor Gary Cohn explained Trump's remarks: “He said they're very bad on trade but he doesn't have a problem with Germany," said Cohn. "He said his dad is from Germany. He said 'I don't have a problem with Germany, I have a problem with German trade.’"
On Friday, Juncker said Trump's "very bad" quote was a translation error. "He did not say that the Germans were behaving badly. He was not aggressive at all and anyway we have taken the defence of the Germans."
Juncker also pointed out that it's impossible for the U.S. to make trade deals with Germany alone — it's the whole European Union or nothing.
Merkel explained this to Trump 11 times during their meeting last March, the UK "Independent" reported.