‘No solution in sight’ for trade: Berlin

FALLOUT::Germany’s economics minister said reciprocal confrontation was not an answer, while White House advisers went on the attack against Canada’s Trudeau

Reuters, BERLIN

Tue, Jun 12, 2018 - Page 6

Germany sees no immediate solution to the trade dispute with the US, and Europe must act decisively in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on metals, German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier said yesterday.

Trump stunned allies on Sunday by backing out of a joint communique agreed by G7 leaders in Canada that had mentioned the need for “free, fair and mutually beneficial trade” and the importance of fighting protectionism.

Trump, who has shocked allies by hitting them with tariffs on steel and aluminum, also said he might double down by hitting the auto industry, a particularly sensitive issue for Germany whose car industry relies heavily on the US market.

“It is important that the Europeans act decisively,” Altmaier told Deutschlandfunk public radio. “At the moment it seems that no solution is in sight, at least not in the short term.”

“We are ready to discuss trade imbalances. We are ready to consider factual arguments, but we believe this should happen among friends and partners and not through reciprocal confrontation,” he said.

Altmaier said that the G7 leaders’ summit had produced “setbacks,” adding that further tariffs by the Trump administration would not only harm its allies, but also the US economy.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday said Trump’s backing out of the G7 final communique via Twitter was “sobering and a bit depressing.”

She promised an EU response to the steel and aluminum tariffs in line with WTO rules.

Merkel was scheduled to hold talks yesterday IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Secretary-General Angel Gurria and World Bank president Jim Yong Kim.

Unbowed, Trump tweeted anew yesterday morning from Singapore, repeating his criticism of US trade policies with Canada — he also took aim at Germany — in a multi-tweet rant that went beyond 200 words all told.

At one point the US leader wrote, “Justin [Trudeau] acts hurt when called out!”

“Why should I, as President of the United States, allow countries to continue to make Massive Trade Surpluses, as they have for decades, while our Farmers, Workers & Taxpayers have such a big and unfair price to pay?’’ he tweeted.

Trump ‘s advisers took up attack in appearances on Sunday’s television news shows, leveling more withering and unprecedented criticism against the Canadian prime minister, branding him a back-stabber unworthy of Trump’s time.

“There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door,” White House National Trade Council Director Peter Navarro, said on Fox News Sunday.

Trump “did the courtesy to Justin Trudeau to travel up to Quebec for that summit. He had other things, bigger things, on his plate in Singapore,” Navarro said.

“He did him a favor and he was even willing to sign that socialist communique. And what did Trudeau do as soon as the plane took off from Canadian airspace? Trudeau stuck our president in the back. That will not stand,” Navarro added.

US National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow suggested Trump saw Trudeau as trying to weaken his hand before the summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, saying Trump would not “let a Canadian prime minister push him around… Kim must not see American weakness.”

Trudeau pulled a “sophomoric political stunt for domestic consumption” that amounted to “a betrayal,” said Kudlow, who appeared on CNN’s State of the Union and CBS’ Face the Nation.

In response to the initial tweets critical of her country and prime minister, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland said her nation “does not conduct its diplomacy through ad hominem attacks.”

Additional reporting by AP