German carmakers are to meet with top US officials at the White House on Tuesday, sources said, as US President Donald Trump mulls damaging tariff hikes on vehicles imported from the European Union.
German news agency DPA reported Sunday that top executives from Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW will hold talks with US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, citing a source close to the matter.
When contacted by AFP there was no immediate comment from the three German auto titans. But a reliable source confirmed the high-level meeting "is scheduled to take place on Tuesday".
According to DPA, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess and Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche are expected to take part in the White House talks, but BMW chief Harald Krueger's presence remained unclear.
German carmakers are hoping to convince Trump not to go through with threatened duties of up to 25 percent on imported cars, which would badly hurt US sales at a time when the Chinese market is already cooling.
Trump agreed with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in July to hold off from imposing new tariffs while negotiations are ongoing.
But as recently as last week the US leader indicated he was still in favour of using tariffs to protect the American auto industry.
The US Commerce Department is currently finalising its recommendations on the potential tariffs.
EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom warned last Wednesday that any US tariffs on autos would meet with immediate retaliation.
Trump has in the past repeatedly taken aim at German car brands in his criticism of the country's "very unfair" trade imbalance with the United States.
He once complained that there were too many Mercedes in New York City, to which Germany's then economy minister retorted that Americans should "build better cars".
Germany's export-reliant car industry is already feeling the sting from Trump's trade row with Beijing that has seen both sides impose duties on goods worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
But in some relief to German carmakers, who have factories in both the US and China, Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping announced a ceasefire in their tariffs war after meeting at the G20 this weekend.