BMW AG Chief Executive Officer Harald Krueger defended the importance of free trade, responding to recent remarks by U.S. president Donald Trump suggesting he’ll push for tariffs to protect American jobs.
“As a global company we’re present on all important markets,” Krueger said at an industry conference in Bochum, Germany. “That also means that we allocate automobile value-creation in a balanced way internationally. This safeguards continuity in volatile times.”
BMW’s U.S. factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina, is the German manufacturer’s largest worldwide. The plant produces BMW’s popular sport-utility vehicles for global markets and is currently being expanded to an annual capacity of about 450,000 vehicles. Krueger said BMW is the largest exporter on a net basis from the U.S. with goods worth $10 billion per year and employs 70,000 people in the country.
“Free trade has only made this success story in the U.S. possible — 70 percent of the automobiles produced here are exported,” Krueger said.
BMW, which is building a factory in Mexico to produce its 3-series sedan, joined General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. in becoming a target of Trump’s criticism for importing cars into the U.S. without paying a substantial border tax. Trump has pledged to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and prevent automakers from shifting jobs south of the border. Kruger said on Wednesday that he expects the automaker’s “good cooperation” with U.S. administrations to continue.