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Trump says Germany is 'very bad' on trade


Why Trump's first foreign tour is unusual

President Trump has gone on the attack again over Germany’s trade policies.

At a meeting with European Union officials in Brussels on Thursday, Trump said Germany was “very bad on trade,” according to the president’s top economic adviser Gary Cohn.

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“He said they’re very bad on trade but he doesn’t have a problem with Germany,” Cohn told reporters who are traveling with Trump to a G7 summit in Sicily, Italy, on Friday.

A spokeswoman for Germany’s economy ministry declined to comment on Trump’s remarks.

German media first reported that Trump had repeated previous criticism of the country over its large trade surplus at a meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Citing sources who participated in Thursday’s meeting, German magazine Der Spiegel quoted Trump as saying: “The Germans are bad, very bad. Look at the millions of cars they’re selling in the U.S. We will stop that.”

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung carried a similar report, and said Trump had made clear that reducing the U.S. trade deficit was an absolute priority for him.

Trump believes America’s trade deficit is evidence that it is losing the global economic game. Its deficit in goods trade with Germany alone was worth $65 billion in 2016.

Related: Germany’s export motor is rolling

Trump has taken aim at German carmakers before. In an interview in January, he said Germany’s BMW (BMWYY) should reconsider building a plant in Mexico, where it plans to start assembling the BMW 3 Series sedan in 2019.

“I would tell them, don’t waste their time and money — unless they want to sell to other countries,” he said. “But I would tell BMW if they think they’re gonna build a plant in Mexico and sell cars into the U.S. without a 35% tax, it’s not gonna happen.”

Related: Merkel to Trump adviser: We’re not manipulating the euro

Another Trump adviser, Peter Navarro, has previously accused Germany of using a “grossly undervalued” euro to hurt the U.S. economy.

Germany has pointed out that the European Central Bank manages monetary policy independently for all countries that use the euro. It has also touted investments made by German companies in the U.S., and their role as major job creators.

Speaking before she met Trump in March, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: “There are about 750,000 jobs created by German companies in the USA. If you multiply that by two or three, you can see that over 1-2 million jobs depend on German companies.”

BMW’s largest assembly plant is in Spartanburg, South Carolina, while Volkswagen (VLKAY) has a big factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Merkel is attending the G7 summit in Sicily but a bilateral meeting with Trump is not scheduled.

— Nadine Schmidt and Kara Manry contributed to this article

CNNMoney (London) First published May 26, 2017: 7:11 AM ET


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