Business World

Friday 18 October 2019

EU will 'push back' in face of US trade tariffs - Merkel

Angela Merkel listens during a press conference with Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House. Photo: AFP/Getty
Angela Merkel listens during a press conference with Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House. Photo: AFP/Getty

Dean Gray

The leaders of Germany, France and Britain are ready to push back if the Trump administration does not permanently exempt the European Union from new import taxes on aluminium and steel imports, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said yesterday.

Ms Merkel said in a statement that she has spoken with French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May since returning from her Friday talks in Washington with US President Donald Trump.

The three European leaders "agreed that the US ought not to take any trade measures against the European Union," which is "resolved to defend its interests within the multilateral trade framework". The chancellor's statement did not outline specific steps the 28-nation EU might take.

The EU's temporary exemption from the tariffs expires tomorrow. The tariffs are aimed primarily at overcapacity among state-backed firms in China that have flooded global markets with cheap steel.

European leaders have argued their countries shouldn't be held responsible for China's practices. Visits to the White House by Mr Macron and Ms Merkel last week produced no immediate change in the expiration date.

Mrs May's office said in a statement after the prime minister's call with Ms Merkel that they and Mr Macron pledged to continue to work closely with the rest of the EU and the US administration with the aim of a permanent exemption from US tariffs.

In March, Mr Trump imposed duties of 25pc on steel and 10pc on aluminium. The step drew retaliation from China and has led to fears of a wider trade war that could hold back the growth of the global economy.

Irish Independent

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