Report: WikiLeaks Details US Global Aid to Automakers

Monday, 12 Sep 2011 12:26 PM

By Greg McDonald

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A Detroit News review of U.S. cables contained in the recent WikiLeaks cache reveals deep government involvement in a number of American automotive issues abroad, ranging from recalls and labor disputes, to the scrapped sale of General Motors’ Opel unit in Germany.
The News reports Monday how the leaked cables between U.S. embassies and Washington show the intersection between global commerce and politics.
In its review of more than 100 auto-related diplomatic communications, the newspaper found that the government often went beyond its role of simply promoting trade to occasionally intervene or flex its muscle on behalf of Detroit-based automakers in disputes with foreign governments.
Sometimes, however, Washington drew harsh criticism from foreign leaders for not doing enough to control the actions of U.S. auto officials.
For example, the German government complained bitterly over the proposed 2009 sale of GM’s Opel unit — to the point where the embassy in Berlin cabled Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to suggest she seek agreement with German Prime Minister Angela Merkel to “tone down the public rhetoric on Opel.”
The newspaper also highlighted cables that focused on China’s derailment of GM’s effort to sell its Hummer division to a Chinese machinery maker, and concerns over damage to U.S.-Japan relations because of massive Toyota recalls.

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