With billions of dollars in trade between China and the European Union at stake, Germany’s second-highest Cabinet official called Saturday for the two sides to engage in talks to try to resolve an escalating dispute over tariffs.

Robert Habeck, Germany’s vice chancellor and minister for economic affairs and climate, said that he expected talks to begin soon between China and European officials. He expressed a hope that tariffs could be avoided.

Still, he added that tariffs could be justified if the European Commission’s concerns about China’s subsidies for its electric car industry were not resolved.