BERLIN -- Continental voiced concerns about the possibility of an escalating trade war with the United States should the U.S. impose tariffs on steel and aluminum.
"We as Continental are not at all pleased about what we are hearing from the U.S. administration and what, by and large, could be about to happen in the world," finance chief Wolfgang Schaefer said on Thursday.
Possible tariffs on steel and aluminum imports would hardly affect Continental directly but the company could suffer indirectly if the automotive industry was hit, he said.
About a quarter of Continental's group sales are generated in North America, evenly spread between automotive and rubber-group sales, according to company data.
On Thursday the European Commission raised the prospect that the U.S. could consider exempting the EU's 28 member states from the measures along with U.S. neighbors Canada and Mexico.
But it warned that counter-measures would include European tariffs on U.S. oranges, tobacco and bourbon, adding that some products under consideration for an EU riposte were largely produced in constituencies controlled by President Donald Trump's Republicans.
The EU is by far the biggest trading partner of the U.S. by value and, after China, member states have together the biggest trade surplus with the country.
The U.S. tariffs would be designed to counter cheap imports, especially from China, which Trump says are undermining U.S. industries and jobs.
China had a record $375.2 billion goods surplus with the U.S. last year.
Although China accounts for only a small fraction of U.S. steel imports, its massive industry expansion has helped produce a global glut of steel that has driven down prices.