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EU must push hard to secure U.S. tariff exemption - Altmaier

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) – German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said on Tuesday it was unclear whether Europe’s appeal to the United States to be exempt from import tariffs on steel and aluminium would succeed, but the bloc would push as hard as possible in the coming days.

U.S. President Donald Trump has set tariffs of 25 percent on incoming steel and 10 percent on aluminium on grounds of national security but has granted EU producers an exemption until June 1 pending the outcome of talks.

“It’s not just about coal and steel, but about the future of transatlantic trade relations,” Altmaier told a news conference after a meeting of EU ministers about trade. “We will use the next nine days…. in very close and intensive contact with the United States to look for a solution.”

“Whether we come to a positive result, no one can say, but we would lose if we didn’t at least try… I remain optimistic that a solution can be found if both sides are interested in it and if both sides are prepared to move in the right direction.”

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek)

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