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German carmakers hit by report Trump wants to drive them off U.S. streets

An excerpt from German magazine Wirtschaftswoche’s article, which cited several unnamed European and U.S. diplomats but did not include any direct quotes, could not be independently verified, while a United States Embassy spokesman in Berlin referred questions to Washington.

The news and current affairs magazine said Trump had told French President Emmanuel Macron in April that he aimed to push German carmakers out of the United States altogether. Macron’s administration in Paris declined to comment on the report.

The Trump administration last week opened a trade investigation into vehicle imports, which could result in a 25 percent tariff on cars on the same “national security” grounds Washington used to impose metals duties in March.

This could destroy exports by German carmakers, which control 90 percent of the U.S. premium market and are the biggest European Union exporters of cars to the United States.

BMW owns Rolls-Royce, while Daimler has Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen controls Bentley, Bugatti, Porsche and Audi.

Daimler, BMW and Audi declined comment. Porsche was not immediately available for comment.

Trump has railed against German carmakers before and in early 2017, in an interview with German newspaper Bild, had said he would impose 35 percent tariffs on imported cars.

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