06:31 GMT +313 December 2019
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    French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire gives a press conference at Bercy Economy ministry in Paris (File)

    'Trade War' Is a Reality: French Finance Minister Urges US to Recall Tariffs

    © AP Photo / Kamil Zihnioglu
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    French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Saturday the European Union could not consider negotiating a free trade agreement with the United States without Washington first recalling its tariffs on steel and aluminum.

    Le Maire told reporters at the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in Buenos Aires that there was no disagreement between France and Germany over how and when to start trade talks with the United States, however, both agreed Washington needs to take the first step by eliminating tariffs, Reuters reported.

    "We refuse to negotiate with a gun to our head," Le Maire was quoated as saying on the sidelines of the G20 meeting.

    Earlier on Saturday French Finance Minster told AFP that the United States must avoid pushing the world into a "survival of the fittest" scenario through tit-for-tat trade sanctions.

    "We are all, particularly us European countries, worried about this trade war that was launched a few weeks ago," Le Maire was quoted as saying by AFP.  "This trade war will produce only losers, it will destroy jobs and put pressure on global growth. "We call on the United States to see sense, to respect the rules of multilateralism and to respect their allies."

    Bruno Le Maire stressed that allies should think on ending trade dispute.

    "Americans and Europeans are allies, we cannot understand how us, Europeans, can be affected by US trade tariffs," Bruno Le Maire was quoted as saying by AFP.

    Meanwhile, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said Thursday that European Commission’s President Jean-Claude Juncker visit to the United States on July 25 will focus on preventing the Brussels-Washington trade relations from further worsening.

    Malmstrom pointed out that the European Union wanted to create additional opportunities for the bilateral trade and investment.

    "The message is: The EU is a committed global trader – and as such, we are open to ideas about opening trade. We are prepared to think outside of the box and find solutions that suit us both. Let's approach this like the allies and partners that we are," she added.

    The EU-US trade relations have been tense since Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The European Union sought exemption from the new US trade restrictions but, when Washington refused to do so, imposed its own barriers on the US goods.


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