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HELSINKI — Both Washington and Beijing are aware that a trade conflict is not the best approach to international politics despite continued retaliatory tariffs between the two sides, Finnish Prime Minister told CNBC Antti Rinne.
The United States has slapped several waves of tariffs on China since early 2018, with Beijing responding with similar duties on U.S. products. The conflict is having an impact on the global economy and souring sentiment for businesses and investors.
Speaking to CNBC in an exclusive interview Friday, Rinne told CNBC that President Donald Trump and his administration "know that this is not the best way to handle international relations."
"At the same time I think that also China's leaders know that this kind of trade war, this kind of situation, is not good for Chinese people and this is not the best way for China to handle these kind of situations," he added.
The U.S. president has repeatedly defended his actions, despite criticism and potential economic damage. In a tweet last September he said that tariffs "have put the U.S. in a very strong bargaining position, with Billions of Dollars, and Jobs, flowing into our Country."
U.S. and Chinese officials are due to meet next month for a fresh round of trade talks. Trump said last week that he would consider an interim deal with China, but he would favor getting "the whole deal done."
Meanwhile, Trump has also pursued a tough stance on Europe regarding trade, threatening to impose tariffs on the region's carmakers. The sector is highly prized in countries like Germany and has been an important driver of growth for the region.
"I hope that China, USA, and (the) European Union, together, can solve these kind of situations," Rinne said, favoring a compromise at the international level, via the World Trade Organization (WTO).
"We are a small economy, (but) we are a big export economy and it means, these kind of things; it could be that it harms our economy in the coming years," the Finnish leader said.
Finland's growth rate has slowed since 2017. Data from the Finnish statistics office out in August showed that its growth rate increased in the second quarter by 0.5% compared to the previous three-month period. However, there was a contraction in exports — a key component of its economic growth.