Merkel and Macron Are Said to Seek United Front on Trump Tariffs

(Bloomberg) -- Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel are seeking to lock in a united front against Donald Trump’s tariff threats by meeting in Berlin next week before they travel to Washington for separate talks with the U.S. president, a French government official said.

With a May 1 deadline approaching for Trump to decide whether he’ll extend a waiver on U.S. imports of European steel and aluminum, Germany’s chancellor and the French president plan to meet on Thursday to coordinate strategy. They’re attempting a pincer movement on Trump, with China emerging as the likely target of their joint effort to avert a trade war with the U.S.

While there are differing interests among European Union countries on which industries they’d like to include in a potential deal with Trump, the French view is that the region’s biggest economic powers -- Germany, France and Italy -- won’t let the U.S. divide and conquer, the official said Friday in Paris.

In any case, the EU’s joint stance will be represented by the European Commission in Brussels, according to the official, who asked not to be identified discussing preparations for the meetings.

Macron’s visit to the U.S., which includes Trump’s first state dinner for a foreign leader, is scheduled for April 23-25. Merkel’s trip to meet the president, which the White House has said isn’t firmed up yet, is understood to be at her request.

The EU is just one front in the U.S. attempt to rewrite international trade rules, with Trump last week threatening levies on $100 billion of Chinese goods, shortly after Washington and Beijing outlined tariffs on $50 billion of each other’s imported products. At stake for the EU are the metal tariffs, which threaten to disrupt trans-Atlantic trade of some $720 billion.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.