U.S. NEWS: In South Carolina, Germany Is Considered A Partner, Not a Trade Rival




June, 8th 2017 | By: Mike Fitts.

President Donald Trump has objected to Germany’s trade surplus with the United States, reportedly singling out its auto industry success for criticism. But in South Carolina, an early primary state that helped propel him to the Republican nomination, the Germans aren’t seen as an overseas rival but as a valued economic partner.

Trump tweeted on May 30 about the U.S. trade deficit with Germany: “Very bad for U.S. This will change.” In meetings during his recent trip to Europe, he criticized Germany’s success in selling automobiles in the United States, according to German media reports that the White House has disputed.

In South Carolina, German manufacturing growth is linked directly to the state’s economic success of the past 25 years. The hard-won 1992 deal that spurred BMW to put its first U.S. plant in South Carolina’s Upstate region is considered a watershed moment for the state’s economy, economic and political observers agree.

With all the success of BMW and other German investments by such companies as Robert Bosch Corp. and ZF Transmissions in South Carolina, it would be a major political mistake for Trump and his allies to endanger that with a trade war, according to Bob McAlister, a Columbia public relations consultant who remains well-connected in GOP circles after serving as chief of staff to Gov. Carroll Campbell, who made the deal that brought BMW to the state.

“It would be a blunder of the first order,” McAlister says. “It would be funny if it were not so serious.”

 Trump’s talk on German trade might well just be late-night Twitter bluster or posturing, McAlister says. But if his trade stance hurts what Germany has helped South Carolina build, “he won’t be any more popular here than he is in Massachusetts.”
“This is one of those cases where the president should have gotten his facts first before he went on attack because it’s just wrong,” Ted Pitts, CEO of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, recently told CBS news.
First opened in 1994 and since expanded, the BMW plant employs more than 8,000 and has spurred numerous parts suppliers and other German manufacturers to launch operations in South Carolina. The state features more than 160 German companies doing business in more than 200 locations, according to its Commerce Department
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