Europe should brace for U.S. tariffs on several fronts: German official
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - European Union member states should brace for U.S. tariffs on several fronts in the months ahead, a senior German official warned late on Tuesday, just hours before Washington launched a probe of a planned French digital tax that could trigger future tariffs.
Peter Beyer, Germany’s transatlantic coordinator and member of parliament, said while there was continued U.S. interest in dialogue with Europe, the Trump administration nonetheless appeared poised to impose tariffs over disputes about aircraft subsidies, the Nordstream 2 gas pipeline and European car imports.
U.S. President Donald Trump in May said some imported vehicles and parts posed a national security threhere, but postponed a decision on imposing tariffs on European and Japanese auto imports for as long as six months to allow time for trade talks with both partners.
European officials have said privately that they fear that Trump will now turn his attention to Europe, after brokering a truce in a protracted trade battle with China.
Trump on Wednesday ordered a investigation to determine whether France’s planned 3% tax on the French revenue of large internet companies was unfairly targeting certain U.S.-based companies. Prior investigations focused on China’s trade practices and EU subsidies on large commercial aircraft.
“These are difficult discussions in a difficult international environment,” Germany Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said after a meeting with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in Washington.
He said the exchange with Mnuchin was “productive and constructive,” focusing on reducing global tensions, easing trade disputes and keeping jobs in both countries.
Altmaier is due to meet with U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Thursday.
Later on Wednesday, the minister told an event hosted by German Marshall Fund that Washington and Brussels could reach a trade deal on industrial products by year-end if there exists the sufficient political will to get it done.
“We have to act now. There is no time to be wasted,” Altmaier said. “If there is a political will, we could come to a solution before the end of the year.”