March 23, 2018 / 7:02 AM / a year ago

Germany welcomes U.S. tariff exemption, wants more trade cooperation

FILE PHOTO: German Economic Minister Peter Altmaier delivers a statement regarding the Trump Administration's steel and aluminum tariffs outside of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 19, 2018. REUTERS/ Leah Millis

(Reuters) - Germany’s economy minister on Friday welcomed U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to temporarily exclude European Union countries from higher U.S. import duties on steel and aluminum and called for more international cooperation on trade.

Trump said on Thursday he would suspend tariffs for the EU, the United States’ biggest trading partner, and for Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and South Korea. The tariffs are suspended until May 1 as discussions continue.

“I am very pleased that we have avoided a situation for the German steel and aluminum industry and its workers that could have led to great uncertainty,” Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told Deutschlandfunk radio.

“We don’t want further unilateral measures; rather we want sensible agreements,” he added. “Our goal is that at the end of these talks, the international trade architecture must be more stable - there must be more cooperation, not less.”

Trump took the first steps on Thursday toward imposing long-promised anti-China tariffs, though his actions appeared to a warning shot rather than the start of a full-blown trade war with Beijing.

Altmaier called for more international cooperation “not just against China, but against all those who harm the rules of fair world trade.”

“We have over-capacity and there are some countries who sell their steel below production costs, so they incur a loss to promote their steel on the world market ... that is unacceptable,” he said.

China urged the United States on Friday to “pull back from the brink” as President Donald Trump’s plans for tariffs on up to $60 billion in Chinese goods moved the world’s two largest economies closer to a trade war.

Reporting by Paul Carrel and Georg Merziger, editing by Douglas Busvine, Larry King

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