A fair and free trade creates US jobs, BMW CEO says

  • Harald Krueger has told CNBC that free trade has helped to create jobs in the United States.
  • BMW recently downgraded its earnings forecast, citing trade tariffs and new emissions standards.

BMW Chief Executive Harald Krueger told CNBC on Monday that his firm has created jobs in the U.S. thanks to an environment of free trade.

"We are a clear ambassador of free trade across the globe, because free trade creates wealth," Krueger told CNBC's Annette Weisbach ahead of the Paris Motor Show.

When asked whether the German automaker was impacted by the U.S. trade spat with China, Krueger said BMW could be flexible with its production facilities but the situation was not ideal.

"We created jobs in South Carolina via the export model. That is why we believe that export and global fair trade is exactly what we need," he said before adding that BMW was "coping with the situation."

Shares of BMW fell more than 4 percent on Tuesday last week after the automaker warned investors its 2018 revenues and profits will likely fall due to the costs of implementing new emissions standards in Europe and rising uncertainty stemming from the escalating global trade war.

Automotive revenues are now expected to fall slightly from the 88.6 billion euros ($104.4 billion at the current exchange rate) it generated last year, the company said. It had previously told investors sales would rise.

BMW had also previously forecast profits to be on a par with last year, but now expects a "moderate decrease," the company said. It earned 10.7 billion euros ($12.6 billion at the current rate) in 2017.

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on imported goods from around the world, including China, the European Union and Mexico.

That sparked retaliatory tariffs against U.S. products exported abroad, including a 40 percent tariff by China on U.S. manufactured autos earlier this summer.

BMW's biggest production plant outside Germany is Spartanburg in South Carolina and the company said almost around 70 percent of its cars produced there were exported abroad.

The tit-for-tat tariffs have forced BMW to raise the price of some models exported to China by as much as 7 percent.

Emission standards have also weighed on BMW's bottom line. A new Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) has been introduced that forces non-compliant models of car to be withdrawn from sale.

Krueger said the new standard was causing a dip in the wider car market, but that BMW was well prepared for it.