PARIS – The French government said on Tuesday it agreed with the United States that there was an overcapacity problem in steel and aluminum, but added it could only discuss the issue once it was assured that the European Union would be permanently exempted from a unilateral tariff hike.
In a joint statement by the French foreign and finance ministries, the country reacted to the US government’s announcement on Monday that it was delaying a decision on imposing tariffs on Canada, Mexico and the EU until June 1.
“We agree that there is a problem of overcapacity in steel and aluminum,” read the statement. “We are ready to work with the USA and other partners to deal with those issues, and to develop fast and appropriate solutions.”
“But we can only do so serenely when we are certain that we will be excluded from a unilateral increase in tariffs on a permanent basis,” it added.
The US’ controversial new tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports came into effect on March 23, although the administration of President Donald Trump temporarily exempted some of his main allies in order to negotiate parallel trade deals seeking a reduction in said imports.
“France and the EU are allies of the US,” the statement said, adding that they were not the cause of the global overcapacity problem and fully respected all the rules set by the World Trade Organization.