11:45 GMT +316 June 2019
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    French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire gives a press conference at Bercy Economy ministry in Paris (File)

    Germany Warns Against Protectionism, France Blames US Amid Trade Row With US

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    On Thursday, the Trump administration is expected to announce that the United States will impose steel and aluminum tariffs on EU states.

    German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned against protectionism in global trade ahead of a deadline for steep US import duties on steel and aluminum imports from Europe after talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi Thursday.

    "To put it clearly: protectionism and isolation with regard to free trade must be kept from getting the upper hand again in free trade," he stated, adding that international partners could have "no interest in the clock being turned back in trade policy" ahead of a Friday deadline for the new tariffs.

    France's Position on the Issue

    Earlier in the day, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told the US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that the US metal tariffs would be unjustified and dangerous.

    "If US authorities take responsibility — and it will be only their responsibility — and decide to raise the tariffs for steel and aluminum for Europe without any reason, without any justification, while the excess production of steel and aluminum comes from China, and not from Europe… This decision will be unjustified and dangerous, in which case Europe will draw conclusions from this decision and take appropriate retaliatory measures, uniform and firm," Le Maire said in a video posted in his Twitter.

    He added that the EU would take "all necessary measures" to respond if the United States decided to impose tariffs.

    READ MORE: EU Trade Chief Believes US Unlikely to Prolong Steel, Aluminum Tariff Exemptions

    Earlier, the EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom stated that it was unlikely that the US decided to refrain from applying tariffs to the goods from the bloc after the temporary exemption expires.

    According to the bloc's trade chief, the US is likely to impose a cap on the exports from the EU.

    European Union Ambassador to the United States David O'Sullivan said earlier that the EU will likely respond with "counterbalancing" tariffs on US products.

    French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said earlier that the French and other Europeans don't want a trade war, but if they are attacked, they will have to defend their interests.

    After the US imposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum in late March, the EU was granted a temporary exemption, which is due to expire on June 1.

    In March, the United States introduced a 25-percent tariff on imported steel and a 10-percent tariff on imported aluminum.

    After that tensions between China and the United States had escalated. In response, Beijing vowed to retaliate against US exports to China with a matching value.

    Related:

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    EU Trade Chief Believes US Unlikely to Prolong Steel, Aluminum Tariff Exemptions
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    trade war, Bruno Le Maire, United States, France
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