Germanys call for trade talks with Trump risks EU divisions

The German government Tuesday called for a negotiated settlement with U.S. President Donald Trump to avoid the imposition of steel and aluminum tariffs in June, in a move that could strain relations with Paris.

Berlin, which has been defensive of its manufacturing and automobile sector, has been far more open to offering trade concessions to its U.S. counterparts and Tuesday called for talks to avoid an “escalation.”

“Neither the European Union nor the United States can have an interest in an escalation in our trade relationship. On the contrary, both the U.S. and the EU would profit from further deepening our trade ties,” Germanys government said in a statement, adding: “It is especially important that the EU has engaged in talks with the United States and will continue to do this.”

Trump has often threatened to tax Germanys car exports if the EU hits back against his steel tariffs.

Berlins tone is markedly softer than that of the European Commission, which Tuesday warned that the EU “will not negotiate under threat.”

France once again called for EU countries to remain united. “No reason whatsoever justifies that the EU be subjected to unilateral tariff increases on steel and aluminum,” Frances ministers for Europe and the economy, Jean-Yves Le Drian and Bruno Le Maire said in a joint statement. “The European Union must stay united and stand together, as it has done these past weeks,” they added.

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