The leaders of Germany, France and Britain are ready to push back if the Trump administration does not permanently exempt the European Union from new import taxes on aluminium and steel imports, German Chancellor said Sunday.
Merkel said in a statement that she has spoken with French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May since returning from her Friday talks in Washington with U.S. President Donald Trump.
The three European leaders "agreed that the U.S. ought not to take any trade measures against the European Union," which is "resolved to defend its interests within the multilateral trade framework." The chancellor's statement did not outline specific steps the 28-nation EU might take.
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The EU's temporary exemption from the tariffs expires Tuesday. The tariffs are aimed primarily at overcapacity among state-backed firms in China that have flooded global markets with cheap steel.
European leaders have argued that their countries shouldn't be held responsible for China's practices. Visits to the White House by Macron and Merkel last week produced no immediate change in the expiration date.
May's office said in a statement after the prime minister's Sunday call with Merkel that they and Macron "pledged to continue to work closely with the rest of the EU and the U.S. administration with the aim of a permanent exemption from U.S. tariffs.
In March, Trump imposed duties of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminium. The step drew retaliation from China and has led to fears of a wider trade war that could hold back the growth of the global economy.