June 1, 2018 / 4:46 PM / 6 months ago

U.S. isolated at G7 meeting over tariffs: French minister

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies at a hearing of the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. May 22, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WHISTLER, British Columbia (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is isolated at a G7 finance ministers meeting in Canada due to Washington’s new trade tariffs on its allies, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Friday.

Le Maire said he would tell Mnuchin the U.S. decision to impose tariffs on European Union steel and aluminum was “legally unacceptable, politically unfair and economically dangerous”.

“Unfortunately we are going to have a G6 plus one with the United States alone against everyone and running the risk of economic destabilization,” Le Maire told reporters.

The United States on Thursday said it was moving ahead to impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum imports from the EU, Canada and Mexico, ending months of uncertainty about potential exemptions.

“Our entire objective is to bring the American authorities back to good sense and reason,” Le Maire said, adding that the U.S. administration had put forward no “convincing arguments” to justify its tariff action.

The U.S. move added to European anger over Washington’s threat to sanction companies that did business with Iran. U.S. President Donald Trump last month pulled the United States out of the 2015 international nuclear accord with Tehran.

Le Maire said that he would press Mnuchin for sanction exemptions for specific French companies so they could operate in Iran. He declined to say which companies.

The fresh trade tensions have unsettled financial markets already jittery about political uncertainty in Italy and rising oil prices.

Le Maire welcomed the formation of a new Italian government and said he hoped to meet with his new Italian counterpart as soon as possible to discuss strengthening the euro zone.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Paul Simao

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