Trump meets with German auto executives

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Donald Trump met on Tuesday with executives of Germany’s three top auto manufacturers, amid efforts by Washington and Brussels to resolve the US president’s complaints about imbalanced trade in the sector.

After the talks, the executives sounded optimistic about avert-ing Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on auto imports.

The White House said Trump had encouraged the automakers to produce more in the United States, where they are already significant manufacturers.

“The president shared his vision of all automakers producing in the United States and creating a more friendly business environment,” the White House said in a statement following the meeting.

In July, Washington and Brussels announced a truce in their tit-for-tat tariff battle after Trump threatened to impose duties on European auto imports, citing national security.

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche, who knows the US well, as he used to live here and ran Chrysler, gave an upbeat assessment after Tuesday’s talks with Trump.

“I would say that this implicit potential threat (of tariffs) was reduced,” said Zetsche.

He added, “there was a very positive, pleasant atmosphere.”

Volkswagen chief executive Herbert Diess also expressed optimism.

“That’s basically why we are here – to avoid the additional tariffs, and I think we are on a good way.”

Diess added, “I think we made a big step forward to avoid the tariffs.”