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Germany: Getting into trade conflict with U.S. would be careless

German Economic Minister Peter Altmaier leaves after delivering a statement regarding the Trump Administration's steel and aluminium tariffs, outside of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 19, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said on Wednesday it would be negligent to end up in a trade conflict with the United States, which has imposed tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from some countries.

Speaking just days before Chancellor Angela Merkel travels to Washington to hold talks with U.S. President Donald Trump on the issue, Altmaier said: “I remain convinced that it would be careless to stumble into a trade conflict so I think a consensual solution should take precedence over a confrontational one.”

Trump has given the EU until May 1 to negotiate permanent exemptions from the tariffs.

Asked whether updated German government growth forecasts included the scenario of a so-called ‘hard Brexit’, Altmaier said:

“We don’t know whether there will be a hard Brexit. We are all interested in avoiding it and the EU Commission is negotiating with Britain in this spirit. Even if these negotiations were not to lead to the desired outcome, there would unlikely be an impact on economic growth this year. So we are safe with the forecast for this year.”

Reporting by Michelle Martin and Paul Carrel