Paris and Berlin are sticking together in the face of the American trade threat. Both countries want to do everything possible to avoid the introduction of new customs duties between Europe and the US. Europeans want to avoid this escalation at all costs, particularly at a time when the trade wars between Washington and Beijing has already eroded global growth.
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The European Commission has dangled the prospect of limiting its public subsidies to the US administration in an attempt to avoid further tariffs from Washington that could come as early as next month in the context of the Airbus-Boeing dispute. Among the points of agreement, Paris and Berlin have committed to work together to reduce public debt and pursue structural reforms, despite these issues being of concern to France.
On the German side, there is a growing acceptance of the need to invest more in the economy to boost growth.
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Germany has already started to increase public investment in , with a 7. The two countries also announced the launch of their European electric battery project. Suppliers throughout Europe earn much of their revenue by selling to big German manufacturers like Daimler, Siemens and ThyssenKrupp. But those companies are struggling. Daimler, the maker of Mercedes-Benz cars, has issued three profit warnings since October. Siemens, whose products include high-speed trains and equipment for oil and gas producers, this month reported a 6 percent decline in net profit.
China and Germany band together against US on trade, but it’s ‘tenuous’
As it strains against the German downdraft, Europe is battling a host of other woes. High on the list is Italy, which has a stagnant economy, an unstable government and one of the highest debt burdens in the world, giving it the potential to touch off another financial crisis. Another risk is that Britain will leave the European Union without a deal with Brussels, creating chaos in the flow of goods across the English Channel.
And car sales are plunging around the world, threatening an important source of jobs in countries like Italy, France and Slovakia. The biggest squeeze comes from the trade war.
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Sales of German cars have slumped as Chinese buyers pull back. It can be difficult to gauge how deeply other individual economies are rattled by the trade war, but the latest numbers across Europe, released on Friday, contained troubling signs. Eurozone growth has already been meager this year. The 19 countries in the currency bloc collectively grew 0.
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The European Union, which includes the eurozone plus nine other countries, recorded the same rate. Spain was one of the best performers, registering a growth rate of 0.
Even if Europe manages to avoid two consecutive quarters of declining output, the technical definition of a recession, no one expects growth to be particularly impressive.
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