World trade

France, Europe slam Trump tariffs at G7

The G7 finance ministers at the summit in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada
The G7 finance ministers at the summit in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada REUTERS/Ben Nelms

European finance ministers joined their Canadian hosts in expressing "incomprehension" at the US's imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminium at the G7 meeting on Friday, France's Bruno Le Maire told the media. Earlier he said that President Donald Trump would "never respect weakness from the Europeans".


"The French, the British and the Germans were tense," Le Maire said after the meeting of top economies in the ski resort of Whistler. "Everyone expressed their total incomprehension of the American decisions and recalled that it was up to the Americans to make the first move because it was they who decided these taxes."

Earlier in the day, ahead of a meeting with his Canadian counterpart Bill Morneau, Le Maire talked tough, warning that "The Europeans will get nothing from weakness."

Rather than being a G7 meeting, it was a "G6+1", Le Maire, commented, with the US "alone against everyone" and "risking the economic destablisation of the planet".

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told his colleagues the question could be discussed further at next week's heads of state meeting in Quebec, sources told the AFP news agency.

Canada has already announced retaliatory measures and the European Union is discussing them.

"There are measures that can be taken on a certain number of American products," Agriculture Minister Stéphane Travert told CNews TV, mentioning textiles, motorbikes and "certain spirits", apparent references to Levis jeans, Harley-Davidsons and American Bourbon whiskey.

Canada and the EU have challenged the duties of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminium at the World Trade Organisation.

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