April 20, 2018 / 11:37 PM / 3 months ago

EU needs 'full' exemption from U.S. tariffs - France's Le Maire

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The European Union needs to be exempted from steel and aluminium tariffs announced by the United States in order to work with Washington on trade with China, France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Friday.

French Minister for the Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire speaks at panel on the security-development nexus during IMF spring meetings in Washington, U.S., April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

“We are close allies between the EU and the United States. We cannot live with full confidence with the risk of being hit by those measures and by those new tariffs. We cannot live with a kind of sword of Damocles hanging over our heads,” Le Maire told a press conference during the International Monetary Fund and World Bank spring meetings.

“If we want to move forward ... if we want to address the issue of trade, an issue of the new relationship with China, because we both want to engage China in a new multilateral order, we must first of all get rid of that threat,” he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent tariff on aluminium imports last month to counter what he has described as unfair international competition.

Le Maire said the EU’s exemption from the tariffs should be “full and permanent.”

The EU is seeking compensation from the United States for the tariffs through the World Trade Organization. Brussels has called for consultations with Washington as soon as possible and is drawing up a list of duties to be slapped on U.S. products.

Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Paul Simao

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