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France's finance minister said he doesn't want the European Union to become the latest front in the global trade war, but that the bloc would hit the U.S. with sanctions if a settlement isn't reached in a long-running dispute over aircraft aid.
"We are all aware of the dramatic consequences of this trade war between China and the U.S. on the level of growth,'' minister Bruno Le Maire told reporters in Luxembourg on Thursday. "Do we really want to add a trade war between the U.S. and Europe to the Chinese and American trade war?''
The World Trade Organization gave the U.S. the go-ahead as soon as this month to impose tariffs on about $7.5 billion of European exports annually in retaliation for illegal government aid to Airbus SE. The EU has said that it will retaliate against any Airbus-linked tariffs when the WTO rules early next year on a similar dispute over subsidies the U.S. supplied to Boeing Co.
And while the EU's top trade negotiator, Cecilia Malmstrom, said she's hopeful a settlement can be reached that would avoid a tit-for-tat tariff escalation, the bloc has already published a preliminary list of U.S. goods -- from ketchup to video-game consoles -- being targeted in a $12 billion plan for retaliatory levies related to the Boeing case.
"I'm still in favor of a settlement,'' Le Maire said. "But the American administration must be aware that if there is not a settlement, Europe will not have any other choice but to retaliate and to put sanctions.''
"It's not in the interest of Europe to enter into a trade war with the U.S. and I strongly believe too that it's not in the interest of the U.S.,'' he said.
--With assistance from Viktoria Dendrinou, Nikos Chrysoloras and Caroline Connan.
To contact the reporters on this story: Maria Tadeo in Madrid at email@example.com;Stephanie Bodoni in Luxembourg at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at email@example.com, Richard Bravo, Nikos Chrysoloras
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