Today, Germany’s economy minister Peter Altmaier will arrive in the US to discuss halting President Donald Trump’s steel and aluminium tariffs. Currently, it is unclear exactly with whom he will be negotiating.
Altmaier’s meeting comes ahead of the recent conclusion of the exhausting process of forming a coalition between Angela Merkel’s CDU-CSU bloc and the SPD. The economy minister, a key Merkel ally, faces pushback from the AfD opposition, which has expressed support for Trump’s tariffs as a resistant measure against the EU’s own tariff restrictions on foreign exports into the economic bloc.
In Altmaier’s attempt to extend Merkel’s agenda of promoting EU-sponsored free trade, do not expect Washington to cave in easily. Already, the European Commission has claimed that the US cannot use national security as a reason to enact these tariffs and has released a list of potential American imports facing duties of 25% if the EU is not exempted from Trump’s trade restrictions. However, should Washington exempt individual EU states instead of the entire bloc, transatlantic tensions will be exacerbated rather than smoothed over; Altmaier will have to demonstrate proactivity in minimising escalation.
Bibi contributes to our analysis of European affairs for The Daily Brief. She also serves as a copy editor for the publication.