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Volkswagen plant, Mexico. Photo supplied

Volkswagen to fund Berlin ADL as US tariffs loom

A week before new US tariffs on Volkswagen are set to hit vehicles imported into America from Mexico, the group CEO Herbert Diess announced funding to curb alleged anti-Semitism in Europe.

Published: June 5, 2019, 6:41 am

    Berlin

    The new tariffs could cause VW significant pain. President Donald Trump said he would begin imposing tariffs on all goods manufactured in Mexico starting at 5 percent on June 10. The tariffs would be steadily increased, hitting 25 percent on October 1 “unless Mexico substantially stops the illegal inflow of aliens coming through its territory,” Trump said.

    Mexican-made vehicles accounted for nearly half of VW’s sales in the US last year. It also assembles one of its best-selling US vehicles accounting for a quarter of sales, at a plant in Mexico.

    “We believe that tariffs of this kind are a tax on the US consumer and will result in higher prices and also threaten job growth,” VW said in a statement on Monday, adding that the company “has made significant long-term investments in the United States that would be impaired by restrictive changes to trade.”

    In December German automakers were pressured by Trump to expand their investments in the United States, but no firm decisions have been made yet on a number of key investments.

    But Volkswagen has since offered to fund and office of the Anti-Defamation League in Berlin to “research and combat anti-Semitism in Europe”, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported. Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen Group, the largest car manufacturer in the world, announced the news on Monday at the ADL’s annual Washington conference.

    “The initiative will focus on assessing the root causes of anti-Semitism, extremism, and bigotry in society and develop programs to counter it through advocacy and education,” ADL said in a release Tuesday.

    A spokesman for the German car manufacturer said it would be the first ADL presence in Europe in more than a decade. The funding, over the three years, is set to be at least seven figures, the official said, with an option to expand.

    In an interview with JTA, Diess claimed that he was concerned about the recent spike in anti-Semitism in Europe, and that Volkswagen had a special obligation to combat racism because of its origins in Nazi Germany.

    “We have more obligation than others,” he said. “The whole company was built up by the Nazi regime.”

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