German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier has called for a new European Union trade deal with the United States that would focus on the industrial sector and result in an overall reduction in import tariff rates.
Altmaier told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung that a stalled comprehensive US-European trade deal known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) had “proved to be unrealisable”, but added:
“We should talk about doing something new, such as an understanding concerning selected industrial products.”
This should result in a solution “in which tariffs overall go down, not up”, he said.
In the run-up to June 1, the date when US President Donald Trump says he will impose steel and aluminium import tariff rates on the EU unless it makes concessions, Berlin is urging its European partners to show some flexibility and pursue a broad trade deal that benefits both sides.
But some countries are resisting. France, the other half of the motor driving European integration, resents Germany’s big trade surplus and wants a tougher EU stance against the US tariffs.
“I strongly warn against recklessly sliding into a spiral of isolation,” Altmaier said. “I strongly argue for an agreement with the United States.”