March 9, 2018 / 11:28 AM / 9 months ago

Germany backs EU decision to respond to U.S. steel tariffs-spokesman

FILE PHOTO - U.S. President Donald Trump announces a presidential proclamation placing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports while surrounded by workers from the steel and aluminum industries at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany on Friday urged multilateral talks to address overcapacity in the steel sector and said it supports the European Union’s plans to respond if U.S. President Donald Trump presses ahead with tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.

Earlier on Friday the EU’s trade chief said the bloc expects to be excluded from U.S. steel and aluminium tariffs but will go to the World Trade Organization to impose its own measures if Washington presses ahead.

“The European Union has decided to respond clearly to the U.S. measures and as the federal government we support this position,” government spokesman Georg Streiter told a regular news conference. “The exact nature of the (EU) steps will be decided after a close analysis of the American measures.”

Separately, Germany’s transatlantic coordinator, Juergen Hardt, told Reuters the U.S. government should have exempted its European allies from punitive tariffs imposed against steel and aluminium imports that were primarily aimed at China.

Hardt called the U.S. decision a “blow to transatlantic economic ties” and criticised U.S. President Donald Trump for seeking answers to U.S. economic problems overseas.

Reporting by Gernot Heller; Writing by Joseph Nasr and Paul Carrel; Editing by Gareth Jones

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