AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The European Union will have to establish new trading partnerships if its traditional economic and political ally the United States heads down a path of protectionism, Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on Tuesday.
"We don't yet know if that is going to happen," Dijsselbloem told the RTL broadcaster. "Europe must not sit back and blindly wait for what happens in the United States, but move ahead itself, also in the area of trade."
Dijsselbloem's comments came amid a backlash in the European Union and beyond to U.S. President Donald Trump's early policy moves, including withdrawing from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact.
He said that while the United States remained a key trade partner it would be sensible for the EU to finalize trade deals being negotiated with Asia, Latin America and Africa.
"Our cooperation with China. ..is very important. Economically, increasingly important, but also politically," he said.
"If the U.S really opts for a more protectionist, inward-looking approach ... (and) is no longer a supporter of trade and cooperation, Europe will have to take on that role with determination."
Reporting By Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Richard Lough