Europe will push back if hit with trade tariffs, says Merkel

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

Mrs Merkel said in a statement today that she has spoken to French President Emmanuel Macron and 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 on Tuesday. 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 should not be held responsible for China's practices.

Visits to the White House by President Macron and Mrs Merkel last week produced no immediate change in the expiration date.

A Downing Street statement said Mrs May, Mrs Merkel 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, President Trump imposed duties of 25% on steel and 10% 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.

- PA

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