Speaking to reporters after her talks with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang in Berlin on Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated Berlin and Beijing's adherence to the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) rules.
"Today, we have once again agreed that we will stick the WTO rules and rely on multilateralism of business relations in trade issues. This is a common commitment," Merkel stressed.
She also praised the Chinese side for delivering on its promise to open the country's market for foreign companies, citing 22 agreements that were signed during the latest German-Chinese intergovernmental consultations.
'More Room for Improvement' of Beijing-Berlin Ties
Earlier this day, Hubert Lienhard, head of the Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business (APA) called for a joint German-Chinese message to the White House which he said "could be one of the things emerging from today's government consultationsm, according to Deutsche Welle.
He was echoed by Martin Wansleben, managing director of the Association of German Chambers of Trade and Commerce, who suggested that "there's definitely more room for improvement" of German-Chinese economic ties amid their ongoing trade spats with Washington.
"The United States used to be a good trading partner for us, But Trump obviously wants us to lose this partner," Wansleben pointed out.
Holger Bingmann, president of Germany's foreign trade group BGA, for his part, specifically pointed to "Donald Trump's protectionist agenda," which he said should prompt China and the EU to have "a vested interest in strengthening the World Trade Organization and its arbitration system."
Trade War With US has Already Started – French Finance Minister
The remarks came a day after French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire expressed concern over the possible trade war with the US, claiming that Washington is trying to sow division in relations between European countries, especially France and Germany.
Arguing that the trade war with the US had already started, Le Maire called for a strong and unified response from the EU in case more tariffs are imposed by the US. According to him, Europe has sufficient economic clout to do so.
Also last week, Merkel responded to US President Donald Trump's threats to slap import duties on European automobiles by pledging to back slashing EU tariffs on US cars.
She added, however, that for the tariff to be scrapped, a "common European position" should first be reached.
Washington's 'Foolish Protectionist Measures'
In May, Trump ordered the US Commerce Department to investigate the EU's trade surplus with Washington and the possibility of imposing higher import tariffs on European cars. Last week, the president announced that the research will be complete by the end of July and that Washington was considering the introduction of 20 percent duties on all vehicles assembled in the EU.
Also in May, the US proposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods under an intellectual property probe. Beijing immediately reacted to the measure by slapping higher tariffs on predominantly agricultural products from the US in a bid to harm Trump's voters in rural areas.
The threat of a full-fledged trade war emerged in March, when the US imposed a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports.
Commenting on the US decision, Beijing urged Washington to avoid excessive use of protectionist trade-related steps, with the China Iron and Steel Association calling the US import tariff policy "foolish protectionist measures."