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.”