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Escalation in U.S.-China trade spat is biggest threat to world growth: Le Maire

French Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire delivers a speech during a high-level forum on debt at the Finance ministry in Paris, France, May 7, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

PARIS (Reuters) - French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Friday said that an escalation in the trade dispute between China and the United States posed the gravest threat to global growth and threatened jobs across Europe.

"There is no greater threat to world growth," Le Maire told CNews. "It would mean that trade tariffs go up, fewer goods would circulate around the world ... and jobs in France and in Europe would be destroyed."

U.S. President Donald Trump's tariff increase to 25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods took effect on Friday, and Beijing said it would strike back, ratcheting up tensions as the two sides pursue last-ditch talks to try salvaging a trade deal.

(Reporting by Richard Lough; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)