German automakers BMW, Daimler stand to benefit the most if China cuts US auto tariffs

If China follows through on recent reports it will lower tariffs on U.S.-made autos, the real cheers may be coming from Berlin, not Detroit.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He reportedly said Beijing would cut the tariff on autos imported from the U.S from 40 percent to 15 percent during a call on Monday with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

It is a step toward cooling the rising trade tensions between the two countries, but its actual effect on U.S. automakers may be limited, said Kristin Dzichek, an analyst with the Center for Automotive Research. It may actually matter more to foreign automakers with factories in the U.S. than for Ford and General Motors. American manufacturers have been hit hardest by the tariffs on imported metals, which have jacked up materials costs for cars built in the U.S.

With the notable exception of electric carmaker Tesla, U.S. automakers tend to build where they sell.