Donald Trump called NATO obsolete, predicted that other European Union members would follow the U.K. in leaving the bloc, and threatened BMW with import duties over a planned plant in Mexico, according to two European newspapers which conducted a joint interview with the president-elect.
Trump, in an hourlong discussion with Germany’s Bild and the Times of London published on Sunday, signaled a major shift in trans-Atlantic relations, including an interest in lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia as part of a nuclear weapons reduction deal.
Quoted in German by Bild from a conversation held in English, Trump predicted that Britain’s exit from the EU will be a success and portrayed the EU as an instrument of German domination designed with the purpose of beating the U.S. in international trade. For that reason, Trump said, he’s fairly indifferent to whether the EU stays together, according to Bild.
The Times quoted Trump as saying he was interested in making “good deals with Russia,” floating the idea of lifting sanctions that were imposed as the U.S. has sought to punish the Kremlin for its annexation of Crimea in 2014 and military support of the Syrian government.
Repeating a criticism of NATO he made during his campaign, Trump said that while trans-Atlantic military alliance is important, it “has problems.”
“It’s obsolete, first because it was designed many, many years ago,” Trump said in the Bild version of the interview. “Secondly, countries aren’t paying what they should” and NATO “didn’t deal with terrorism.” The Times quoted Trump saying that only five NATO members are paying their fair share.
While those comments expanded on doubts Trump expressed about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization during his campaign, he reserved some of his most dismissive remarks for the EU and Merkel, whose open-border refugee policy he called a “catastrophic mistake.”
In contrast, Trump praised Britons for voting in 2016 to leave the EU. People and countries want their own identity and don’t want outsiders coming in to “destroy it,” he said. The U.K. is smart to leave the bloc because the EU “is basically a vehicle for Germany,” the Times quoted Trump as saying.
“If you ask me, more countries will leave,” he said.
Vehicle For Germany
Donald Trump has taken his strongest swipe yet at the EU, labelling it “a vehicle for Germany” and predicting that other countries will follow Britain in leaving the bloc.
The president-elect also warned that his trust for Angela Merkel “may not last long at all”, ranking the German chancellor alongside Vladimir Putin as a potentially problematic ally.
Washington’s ambassador to the EU, Anthony Gardner, said last week that it would be “the height of folly” for the US to become a “Brexit cheerleader”. He also revealed that Mr Trump’s team had called EU leaders to ask “what country is to leave next”.
But Mr Trump appears ready to do exactly that, predicting that other countries would leave the EU largely as a result of its immigration policy.
“I believe others will leave. I do think keeping it together is not going to be as easy as a lot of people think. And I think this, if refugees keep pouring into different parts of Europe . . . it’s going to be very hard to keep it together because people are angry about it.”
Mr Trump told Mr Gove: “You look at the European Union and it’s Germany. Basically a vehicle for Germany. That’s why I thought the UK was so smart in getting out.”
BMW Border Tax
“I would say to BMW, if they built a factory in Mexico and want to sell cars in the US without paying a 35 per cent tax, then they can forget it. If they want to build cars for [export to] the rest of the world, I wish them all the best. They can build cars for the US. But they will pay a 35 per cent tax for every car they export to the US. What I am saying is that they should build their factory in the US.”
I agree with Trump on Brexit, NATO, EU, and Russia.
I strongly disagree with Trump’s trade policy. If every nation acts similarly, global trade will collapse.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock