Many in the business and government communities say they were stunned by reports President Trump made less-than-flattering remarks about German auto sales in the United States, especially since two German automakers have manufacturing plants in South Carolina.
The State newspaper reports South Carolina Chamber of Commerce president Ted Pitts indicated he was surprised by Trump’s remarks purportedly made on his first foreign trip last week.
BMW operates a major plant in Greer, while Daimler AG is expanding a Mercedes vans plant in North Charleston. The German companies employ several thousand people in the state.
According to the South Carolina Department of Commerce, investments in the state by BMW between 2011-2016 were $4.6 billion, while Daimler is currently undertaking a $500 million enlargement of its North Charleston plant.
The German news magazine Der Spiegel, reported Trump said, “The Germans are bad, very bad,” during a private conversation with EU Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council president Donald Tusk.
“Look at the millions of cars they’re selling in the US. Terrible,” the president reportedly said. “We will stop this.”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer disputed the article.
The Department of Commerce told the newspaper that South Carolina has more than 160 German companies in over 200 locations across the state.