German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier has said he believes German steel companies could still dodge US import tariffs. US firms' reliance on special German steel could protect the industry.
Germany's steel companies were likely to be exempted from new US import tariffs on steel and aluminum from the EU because American companies would find it hard to replace German special steel in the goods they produce, according to Economy Minister Peter Altmaier.
German-produced special steels "cannot be replaced that easily using local US products," he told the daily Rheinische Post in comments published on Saturday.
He said US companies were still very interested in being able to obtain tariff-free German steel, as they would otherwise have to raise their prices considerably. American firms were able to apply for such exceptions under US law, he added.
'There will be only losers'
Altmaier said Europeans had reason to be "united and assertive" in the current trade dispute with the United States over the new tariffs, which went into force on Friday. "Then we can perhaps avoid a trade war," he said.
The minister also expressed confidence regarding threatened punitive US tariffs on European cars and car parts, which would particularly affect Germany.
"I don't think anyone has the upper hand. If it comes to a spiral of reciprocal tariffs, there will be only losers," he said, adding that this realization should inform the debate.
Growing trade dispute
The United States introduced a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum from the EU, Canada and Mexico on Friday.
The EU and Canada have formally complained about the US tariffs at the World Trade Organization, but legal procedures there could take more than a year. They have also threatened to impose tariffs of their own against some US products, as has Mexico.
tj/sms (dpa, Reuters)