German economy minister remains hopeful on US auto tariffs

German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier on 11 July said he sees a 50-50 chance of averting US automotive 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 a meeting with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, said their discussion was constructive and both sides agreed it was important to work out differences over a range of issues, including light-vehicle imports, aircraft subsidies 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 US tariffs on European cars and light trucks exported to the United States.

He said German automakers already build many light vehicles in the United States, and German companies have created over 700,000 jobs in the US, but they are reluctant to invest more given the uncertainties caused by 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."