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Germany

German Automakers Want Access to US Aid Package

German auto manufacturers want equal access to emergency funding for their US operations after the US House of Representatives passed a $14 billion bailout package to save the struggling US industry.

The General Motors Corp. headquarters in Detroit

The US aid package amy still get shot down by the Senate

They said that if they did not get such access, then they would be at a competitive disadvantage to their US rivals, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.

"The crucial point for us is that all those who build in America, and not only American groups, be treated the same way under this plan," the head of the automakers federation VDA, Matthias Wissmann, told the Berliner Zeitung daily.

German companies like Daimler and BMW that also have factories in the United States must also have access to the aid, which would be granted in the form of bridge loans, he said.

"Obstacles to competition must be avoided in all cases," Wissmann said, while also calling for several billion euros in European Union help to boost development of environmentally friendly cars.

"We want to push research and development of ecological automobiles with that," the VDA president said.

In Washington, the US House of Representatives approved a $14 billion (10.8-billion-euro) government lifeline for the US auto industry but the plan still faces possible defeat in the Senate owing to stiff Republican opposition.

Swedish government approves billion-euro aid package

Meanwhile, the Swedish government on Thursday announced a 28-billion-kronor (2.65-billion-euro, $3.5-billion) package to help the country's beleaguered automotive sector, including carmakers Volvo and Saab.

The measures "will take the form of increased investment in research and development and state credit guarantees for raising loans (from) the European Investment Bank," the government said in a statement.

Saab and Opel insignias side by side

Saab, like Opel, is owned by US giant General Motors

Volvo Cars is owned by struggling US automaker Ford while Saab Automobile is owned by General Motors which has warned it could run out of money in the next few months without state aid.

The Swedish government, which had previously said it would await a US decision on a rescue package before announcing any measures, reiterated it would not take over the struggling Swedish car makers.

"We should not own companies," Finance Minister Anders Borg stressed. But, "with the financial woes that we have, we must meet the concerns in the car industry ... and create conditions for them to be able to operate on the market," he added.

Sweden's car industry accounts for 15 percent of the country's exports and, with some 700 companies and suppliers, employs about 140,000 people.

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