The head of Germany’s engineering trade body yesterday called for a fresh attempt at a free trade agreement between the United States and the European Union in the face of steel and aluminium tariffs announced by US President Donald Trump.

“Nobody can have any interest in an escalation of trade disputes in which all sides – the United States, China and Europe – stand to lose at the end,” VDMA President Carl Martin Welcker said at the Hannover Messe trade fair, according to a prepared speech text.

Trump announced a 25 per cent tariff on steel imports and 10 per cent tariff on aluminium imports last month to counter what he has described as unfair international competition.

The EU is seeking compensation from the US for the tariffs through the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

“The US President has made a lot of waves with his erratic trade policy and the announcement of a number of tariffs. We are very concerned about that,” VDMA’s Welcker said, adding that the United States appeared to be turning its back on the WTO.

The US is the most important export market for German engineers, accounting for around €18 billion, or 11 per cent of total exports.

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