France and Germany to press US on steel tariffs

25 Apr 18

France and Germany will press US president Donald Trump to permanently exempt the EU bloc from steel and aluminium tariffs as the leaders meet this week, the EU trade chief has affirmed.

Trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom said the German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Emmanuel Macron, who are both travelling to Washington separately this week, will raise the matter with Trump.

“We expect an unconditional and permanent exception,” she said.

Macron arrives in Washington on Monday while Merkel travels on Thursday.

Last month, Germany’s new finance minister Olaf Scholz raised concerns over protectionism.

He said it was “not the answer” to trade and warned he is “seriously worried” about the trade stand-offs with the US.

Since Trump was elected, the US has taken a more protectionist approach to trade. During his election campaign he blamed globalisation for taking away American manufacturing jobs.

Last month the US imposed 25% tax on steel and aluminium. The European Union has said it will retaliate if the block is not made exempt from the tariff.

The OECD has said the rise in protectionism and emerging trade wars could harm the global economic recovery and sustainable growth.

The EU and Mexico also reached a deal on trade last week, which means all trade goods between the two will now be duty-free, including in the agricultural sector. 

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