German car bosses invited to White House on Tuesday: Handelsblatt

BERLIN (Reuters) – The Trump administration has invited the heads of German carmakers Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE), BMW (BMWG.DE) and Daimler (DAIGn.DE) to a meeting at the White House on Tuesday to discuss trade policy, the Handelsblatt newspaper reported late on Thursday.

It said VW Chief Executive Herbert Diess and Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche would take part in the meeting, along with BMW production chief Oliver Zipse.

Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, told the carmakers in the invitation that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross would take part in the meeting, the newspaper reported.

The U.S. embassy had no immediate comment, referring all queries to the White House. The carmakers declined to comment.

The news came a day after VW’s new top executive in the Americas told reporters that the company was deciding where to locate a new factory in North America to build electric cars for the U.S. market.

President Donald Trump has threatened for months to impose tariffs on all European Union-assembled vehicles, a move that could upend the industry’s business model for selling cars in the United States.

But he has refrained from such a measure while Washington and Brussels undertake talks to cut other trade barriers.

U.S. officials have grown impatient with the lack of progress on trade issues after a meeting between Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in July.

The CEOs plan to make clear they cannot negotiate on behalf of the EU, people close to the matter said last week.

The United States currently imposes import tariffs on cars assembled in the EU of 2.5 percent, compared with 10 percent tariffs for U.S.-built cars entering the European trading bloc.

(This story corrects first name of U.S. official Lighthizer in paragraph 3)

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