As the trade dispute between the EU and US over the metal tariffs continues to heat up, the German Chancellor has voiced her discontent over US-based internet commerce giants and promised to take the dispute to a whole new level. Some interpreted her words as a threat of anti-monopoly probes against them.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has alluded to an “exchange” of restrictions with the US and stressed the importance of the auto industry for the European Union, prompting the US President to repeat his dissatisfaction.
“We should think about the strategic significance of the auto industry for the European Union so we can prepare an exchange with the US,” Merkel said at an event marking the 70th Anniversary of Germany’s post-war establishment of the ‘Social Market Economy’.
Although the leader of Europe’s largest economy plead her commitment to multilateral deals even during times of uncertainty and a “time of disruptive changes,” she also took aim at the US internet tycoons, saying that these platforms threaten the European social model.
“The platform economy is a big problem. It challenges both our competition authorities and the EU’s, and raises the question of whether they need to get involved in the matter of the big concentration of big platforms from the US,” Merkel said.
Earlier this week, she’d already slammed Donald Trump’s stance on the “unfair” distribution of winners and losers in transatlantic trade and existing surpluses, pointing at US tech companies. According to the German Chancellor, the US would be able to boast of having a trade surplus if the profit of US internet tycoons was taken into account.
According to Reuters, with the recent statements, Merkel hinted at a new front in the tariff row with the US with possible probes into the competitive practices of the US internet companies.
Trade tensions between the European Union and the United States have been running high since March, when US President Donald Trump introduced higher tariffs, proclaimed as a protection measure for US industries, but let a number of countries, as well as the European Union, enjoy temporary exemptions first until May 1 and then for one more month, until June 1.
READ MORE: Germany Warns Against Protectionism, France Blames US Amid Trade Row With US
After the metal row, Donald Trump turned to European car imports as he ordered his administration to look into whether they posed a threat to US security. Trump has repeatedly criticized as unfair the fact that the EU has a 10% import tariff on US-made cars, while import duties on European cars total only 3%. Trump is threatening to levy a 25% tariff on imported European cars.