BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday she would back lowering European Union tariffs on U.S. car imports, responding to an offer from Washington to abandon threatened levies on European cars in return for concessions.
“When we want to negotiate tariffs, on cars for example, we need a common European position and we are still working on it,” Merkel said.
U.S. President Donald Trump threatened last month to impose a 20 percent import tariff on all EU-assembled vehicles, which could upend the industry’s current business model for selling cars in the U.S.
According to an industry source, the U.S. ambassador to Germany told German car bosses from BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen at a meeting on Wednesday that Trump could abandon such threats if the EU scrapped duties on U.S. cars imported into the bloc.
Merkel said any move to cut tariffs on U.S. vehicles would require reductions on those imported from other countries to conform with World Trade Organization rules.
“I would be ready to support negotiations on reducing tariffs, but we would not be able to do this only with the U.S.,” she said.
German automotive trade body VDA said any suggestions about mutually removing tariffs and other trade barriers were positive signals.