In view of new US tariffs on steel and aluminium, Peter Altmaier (CDU) hopes for exceptions for German manufacturers. Especially domestic special steel could "not be so easily replaced by US production," said federal Minister of Industry in an interview. US companies would refore continue to have a high interest in duty-free special steel from Germany, according to Altmaier to Rheinische Post. For Altmaier, impact of customs duties on German economy depends primarily on "how United States is implementing measures and extent to which American companies apply for derogations" – for example for special steels. This was possible under US law and also in interests of companies, added Altmaier.
The minister called on Europeans to act "closed and self-confident" in trade dispute with United States. "Then we may still be able to prevent a trade war," Altmaier said. With regard to threatened tariffs on European cars, economics minister said: "I do not think anyone is sitting on longer lever. There will only be losers in a spiral of reciprocal customs duties. "
Since Friday, USA has been raising import duties on steel and aluminium from EU as well. US President Donald Trump is now also officially examining duties on European cars and car parts. This would be especially true for German manufacturers, who exported 2017 almost half a million vehicles to USA alone.Alone Against All
Altmaier had previously criticized that customs decision did not apply to rules of World Trade Organisation (WTO). It has, however, reinforced solidarity within European Union. Only a few hours after EU, Canada had filed a lawsuit against US tariffs at WTO. Canada also argued that tariffs on steel and aluminium were in conflict with WTO rules and US trade obligations. During G7 Finance conference in Whistler, Canada's partner countries, meanwhile, unanimously condemned US Customs decision as unlawful and unacceptable.
Japan has not yet decided wher EU and Canada will follow suit, said Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso on verge of meeting. Aso commented on US approach as "very unfortunate". No country can benefit from unilateral protectionist measures. Even US Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, has been very difficult to justify decision. Rar, Mnuchin asked his G7 colleagues to address ir complaints directly to US President Donald Trump. "That's not my thing," American said. "Honestly, he has done me sorry," said Aso about Mnuchin. "This is not happening so often at G7 meetings – but re was a situation in which United States stood alone against everyone else."
Also federal finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) called in Whistler customs decision of US side "unacceptable". It is illegal and violates international rules in trade. "That, I believe, has been said with great clarity by all, and I have even had impression of being understood too," Scholz said after G7 talks with a view to Mnuchin. "In this respect, this is also a basis for getting better results at some point." He did not, however, reported a return or a signal from Americans to partners.
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