Merkel ally: If Trump imposes punitive tariffs, we'll likely do the same

DAY 8 / JANUARY 27: Trump's order to restrict people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States sparked confusion and anger after immigrants and refugees were kept off flights and left stranded in airports. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

BERLIN (Reuters) - If U.S. President Donald Trump imposes punitive tariffs on goods from other countries, Europe will probably do the same, a senior ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a magazine interview.

Trump has pulled out of a multilateral trade agreement with Asia-Pacific nations, vowed to renegotiate the U.S. free-trade deal with Canada and Mexico and wants to protect U.S. industries from foreign competition by levying new tariffs on goods.

In January, he warned the United States would impose a border tax of 35 percent on imported cars.

Volker Kauder, the leader of Merkel’s conservatives in parliament, told Focus magazine in an interview due to be published on Saturday that he did not want an upward race in terms of tariffs.

But he added: “If Trump makes the first move, we’ll probably have to make the next one. Europe must reserve the right to respond with the same methods.”

Kauder said he was very concerned about Trump’s global economic policy: “We need to talk to Trump and his people about how isolationist policies neither help America nor us.”

Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Alison Williams