Merkel says the EU is now ready to discuss cutting trade tariffs with Trump — but with some caveats

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Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has signaled that the European Union is willing to discuss reducing trade tariffs with the U.S., but only if the measures are reciprocal.

Merkel also added that those discussions would only happen if the U.S. ensured the EU was permanently exempted from import tariffs on metals that President Donald Trump announced in March.

“We have a common position. We want a permanent exemption and then we are
ready to talk how we can reciprocally reduce the barriers to trade,” Merkel said, according to Reuters, as she arrived at a summit of EU leaders in Sofia, Bulgaria Thursday.

Trump imposed import duties of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum but granted EU producers a temporary exemption until June 1.

Merkel’s comments mark a shift in her, and Europe’s, position over trade tariffs and import duties that Trump said were necessary for “national security.”

Previously, the EU’s trade commissioner said the tariff proposals were tantamount to “threats” and “bullying” while the Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel and French President Emmanuel Macron likened the temporary extension to having a “gun to our head,” Reuters reported in March.

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