Europe will not bow to threats from the United States in a trade dispute and wants to resolve it via negotiations, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Tuesday before European Commission talks with Washington on the issue.
Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is due to meet U.S. President Donald Trump to discuss the imposition of U.S. tariffs on EU steel and aluminum and his threats to expand those measures to European cars.
“It is good that Jean-Claude Juncker will be in Washington tomorrow to talk and to seek a solution but we are not heading to negotiations with a pistol at our chest. I don’t think threats bring us closer to a solution,” Maas said.
“We in Europe must stick together…I hope that we succeed in resolving this via consensus but we will not be threatened and climb down so easily,” he told German public television.
Trump has complained about higher duties applied by the European Union on car imports and has described the bloc as a trade “foe”.
EU officials say that while EU import duties for cars are heavier than those applied by the United States, the U.S. rates for other products, including trucks, are higher. They say cutting duties for cars can only be part of a broader trade deal.
Maas, about to visit Japan and South Korea, who are also threatened by U.S. tariffs, said no one had an interest in new and higher tariffs.
“In the end, all sides would lose, also the Americans,” he said, adding he hoped that U.S. officials would realize this.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will not arrive in the United States for talks with U.S. President Donald Trump with a specific trade offer, the Commission said on Monday.
Juncker will travel to Washington on Wednesday for talks focused on trade tensions between the European Union and the United States.
“I do not wish to enter into a discussion about mandates, offers because there are no offers. This is a discussion, it is a dialogue and it is an opportunity to talk and to stay engaged in dialogue,” Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas told a news conference.