Merkel on Trump tariffs: 'It takes two' to prevent a trade war

Merkel on Trump tariffs: 'It takes two' to prevent a trade war
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday warned against the looming specter of a trade war with the United States amid threats by President TrumpDonald John TrumpKimberly Guilfoyle reports being asymptomatic and 'feeling really pretty good' after COVID-19 diagnosis Biden says he will rejoin WHO on his first day in office Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad MORE to impose heavy tariffs on auto imports from Europe.

Merkel told German lawmakers that the ongoing 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.

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"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."

Trump moved in May to impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico, infuriating many key U.S. allies who decried the duties as a dangerous form of economic protectionism. 

The metal tariffs prompted a series of retaliatory measures targeting American products ranging from bourbon to blue jeans to motorcycles.

Trump has only stepped up his threats of further duties on foreign goods, including a possible 20 percent tariff on all European cars shipped to the U.S. 

The World Trade Organization (WTO) warned in a new report released Wednesday of an increased number of trade restrictions introduced by Group of 20 countries, 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.