German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday warned about the consequences of the trade war with the United States while President Donald Trump threatened to impose heavy tariffs on auto imports from Europe.
In a video shared by MSNBC, Merkel told German lawmakers that the dispute between the U.S. and Europe over tariffs already has the hallmarks of a “trade conflict” that could soon worsen into a full-blown trade war if tensions aren’t defused, she said.
“We now have tariffs on aluminum and steel and we have a discussion that is far more serious,” Merkel said, pointing to Trump’s threats to slap tariffs on European auto exports to the U.S.
“This has the character of a trade conflict,” she continued. “I don’t want to use any other word for now. It’s worth every effort to try to defuse this conflict, so it doesn’t turn into a war. But this obviously takes two.”
In May Trump imposed steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada, and Mexico, worsening relations with many U.S. allies who considered the duties as a dangerous form of economic protectionism.
The metal tariffs ignited a series of retaliatory measures targeting American products ranging from blue jeans to motorcycles.
Trump since then has increased his threats of further tariffs on foreign goods, including a possible 20 percent tariff on all European cars shipped to the U.S.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) in a report released Wednesday warned of an increased number of trade restrictions introduced by the 20 biggest economies, saying that such measures could undermine global recovery and growth.
“This continued escalation poses a serious threat to growth and recovery in all countries, and we are beginning to see this reflected in some forward-looking indicators,” WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said Wednesday.