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German economy minister remains hopeful on tariffs, aircraft subsidy dispute

Kitco News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier on Thursday said he sees a 50-50 chance of averting U.S. auto tariffs, and that it will likely take weeks or months to resolve trade issues between the United States and Europe.

Altmaier, speaking to reporters following his meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, said their discussion was constructive and both sides agreed it was important to work out their differences over a range of issues, including aircraft subsidies, car imports and a Russian-led gas pipeline.

“We agreed that we must work on a solution,” Altmaier told reporters after meeting Lighthizer. “We may perhaps have a chance to come to solutions in the coming weeks, clearly before the end of the year.”

Altmaier said a top priority for him was averting U.S. tariffs on European cars imported into the United States.

He said German carmakers already build many cars in the United States, and German firms have created over 700,000 jobs in the U.S., but they were reluctant to invest more given the uncertainties caused by the current trade tensions.

“Both sides have an interest in avoiding an escalation and finding reasonable solutions that can create a win-win situation,” he said.

Asked how he viewed the chances of averting a 25-percent tariff on auto imports from Europe, Altmaier said, “I think we have a 50-50 chance. We will be able to avoid punitive tariffs if we can find reasonable, viable solutions that are in the interest of both sides.”

Altmaier said he also discussed a push to settle a longstanding dispute over government subsidies to U.S. planemaker Boeing (BA.N) and Europe’s Airbus (AIR.PA) with Lighthizer, but said he could not predict if an agreement could be reached.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; writing by Susan Heavey and Andrea Shalal; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Chris Reese

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