March 8, 2018 / 3:42 PM / 15 days ago

Germany warns U.S. against setting bad precedent with tariffs

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries expressed in a letter to her U.S. counterpart the fear that other countries could follow the United States in giving national security as a reason for introducing trade restrictions.

FILE PHOTO: Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany July 19, 2017. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

In the letter, made available by Germany’s RND group of newspapers, Zypries told Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that she had “serious concerns” about the United States’ “unilateral” approach to trade policy, following President Donald Trump’s announcement of imminent tariffs on steel and aluminium.

“The ‘national security’ argument could set a precedent,” she said in the letter. “The fear is that a series of other countries could use the national security argument to shut off their markets. That would risk undermining global trade rules thrashed out laboriously over decades.”

Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Paul Carrel

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