US-Europe duty-free pact could lead to $550 million savings for BMW

Article by Anita Panait, on November 4, 2013

BMW could save up to $550 million in duties annually if the United States and Europe eliminate their import tariffs on cars and trucks, BMW North America chief executive Ludwig Willisch told Automotive News in an interview. Earlier this year, some representatives from the Obama administration and their counterparts in the European Union have commenced talks over such an agreement, dubbed as Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

Despite the absence of a guarantee that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will be realized, auto executives like Willisch are already thinking of using savings from the pact to invest in technology, add content to their cars or reduce prices. Willisch remarked that BMW has “a lot of costs that are not beneficial to the consumer."

He added that if costs are eliminated, it will bring benefits to the consumers. Willisch's comments came on the sidelines of a White House-organized event in which top Obama deputies like Secretary of State John Kerry have stressed the administration's commitment to the free trade talks.

Carmakers were conspicuously represented at the event, marking their role as one of the most vocal champions. Once US tariffs on foreign-made vehicles are eliminated through the pact, foreign luxury brands like BMW would have huge savings. BMW incurs a 2.5 percent duty on the sports and luxury cars it imports from Germany to the US.

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