Europe France ready to review WTO rules if U.S. agree on tariff waiver

France ready to review WTO rules if U.S. agree on tariff waiver

French Minister for the Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire speaks at panel on the security-development nexus during IMF spring meetings in Washington, U.S.

France’s finance minister said on Friday he was open to discussing with the United States a review of global trade rules but only if Washington exempted the European Union from a rise of steel and aluminum tariffs.

U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened an increase of American duties on imports of steel and aluminum from the EU denouncing an excessive trade deficit with its European partners.

Bruno Le Maire recognized overcapacity in the two sectors was a global problem but denied the EU was responsible for it, and would react to an unjustified tariff rise from Washington.

“The EU has to be ready to take all the appropriate decisions if the American administration decides to raise tariffs on the EU,” he told reporters at a meeting of euro zone finance ministers in Sofia, the Bulgarian capital.

In exchange for a permanent waiver for the EU, Le Maire said France was open to rediscuss the multilateral trade system with the U.S and the future of the World Trade Organisation.

“We are ready to open a discussion with our American friends on the future of the WTO, on the improvement of the WTO and the whole multilateral trade system,” Le Maire said.

“But first of all we have to get rid of that question of new tariffs,” he stressed.

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