March 14, 2018 / 3:35 PM / a year ago

Merkel says protectionism is not the answer to U.S. tariffs

German Chancellor Merkel returns to German lower house of parliament session in Berlin, Germany, March 14, 2018. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

BERLIN (Reuters) - The European Union will try to secure an exemption from planned U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday, adding that protectionism is not the right approach to international trade.

Merkel, sworn in for a fourth term in office earlier on Wednesday, said she saw a “crisis of multilateralism” which the EU could best respond to by firstly putting on a united front, and secondly by talking to the United States.

“And thirdly, no angst if it is necessary - which we don’t want to be the case - for measures to be taken,” she told German broadcaster ARD. “But firstly we are focusing on talks.”

The EU expects to be excluded from the U.S. tariffs but will go to the World Trade Organization to impose its own measures if Washington presses ahead, EU officials have said.

“We will try to achieve that. I can’t say beforehand whether that will work or not. We have always said we want fair trade on the basis of WTO agreements,” Merkel said.

“In our, European view, in my view, in Germany’s view protectionism is not the right answer,” she added.

Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Madeline Chambers

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