BERLIN (Reuters) – Deals agreed at the G20 summit in Argentina offer export-dependent German industry some “breathing room”, though rising protectionism continues to pose a risk, the head of Germany’s Chambers of Commerce (DIHK) said on Sunday.
China and the United States agreed at the summit to halt additional tariffs for 90 days as they try to prevent their trade war from escalating.
The G20 nations also backed an overhaul of the World Trade Organization (WTO), marking a victory for U.S. President Donald Trump, a vocal critic of the organisation that regulates international trade disputes.
DIHK President Eric Schweitzer said an agreement by the leaders of the 20 largest industrialised nations to reform the WTO was the most important outcome of the two-day summit in Buenos Aires.
However, he cautioned that significant challenges remain.
“The G20 summit offered German industry some breathing room,” he said in a statement. “But rising protectionism is not off the table. The differences between the United States and China, in particular, are too great.”
At the same time, he said, the dialogue among world leaders in Argentina provided a glimmer of hope.
“It is always better to speak with one another than to torment one another with new tariffs and trade barriers,” he added.
Leading executives from German carmakers Volkswagen <VOWG_p.DE>, BMW <BMWG.DE> and Daimler <DAIGn.DE> are due to meet at the White House to discuss trade policy next week.
They hope to stave off punitive tariffs but will make clear that they cannot negotiate on behalf of the European Union.
Trump, angered by what he sees as an unfair trade imbalance in the sector, has threatened to impose tariffs on EU-assembled vehicles in a move that could upend the industry’s business model for selling cars in the United States.
However, Trump has refrained from such measures while Washington and Brussels undertake talks to cut other trade barriers.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by David Goodman)