German industry groups warned Sunday, ahead of a meeting between European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and U.S. President Donald Trump, that tariffs the United States has recently imposed or threatened risk harming the U.S. itself.

The U.S. imposed tariffs on EU steel and aluminum June 1, and Trump is threatening to extend them to EU cars and car parts. Juncker will discuss trade with Trump at a meeting Wednesday.

Dieter Kempf, head of Germany’s BDI industry association, told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper it was wise for the European Union and United States to continue their discussions.

German auto industry

“The tariffs under the guise of national security should be abolished,” Kempf said, adding that Juncker needed to make clear to Trump that the United States would harm itself with tariffs on cars and car parts.

He added that the German auto industry employed more than 118,000 people in the United States and 60 percent of what they produced was exported to other countries from the U.S. 

“Europe should not let itself be blackmailed and should put in a confident appearance in the United States,” he added.

Lowered expectations

EU officials have sought to lower expectations about what Juncker can achieve and downplayed suggestions that he will arrive in Washington with a novel plan to restore good relations.

Eric Schweitzer, president of the DIHK Chambers of Commerce, told Welt am Sonntag he welcomed Juncker’s attempt to persuade the U.S. government not to impose tariffs on cars.

“All arguments in favor of such tariffs are … ultimately far-fetched,” he said.

The German economy had for decades counted on there being open markets and a reliable global trading system, Schweitzer said, but he added of the current situation: “Every day German companies feel the transatlantic rift getting wider.”

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