World Economy

German Minister: US Protectionism Will Hurt All Sides

German Minister: US Protectionism Will Hurt All SidesGerman Minister: US Protectionism Will Hurt All Sides

Germany’s economy minister says President Donald Trump’s administration has sent “alarming” signals on trade so far, but in comments published Wednesday she said isolationism would also hurt the US economy and it’s important to keep talking with Washington.

Germany has the biggest economy in the 28-nation European Union and is one of the world’s biggest exporters. It is wary of a more protectionist US approach under the new administration, AP reported.

“What we have been experiencing for the last 10 days is alarming and disconcerting,” Brigitte Zypries was quoted as telling German daily Bild. “This goes in completely the wrong direction.”

Asked what the German government can do to prevent a negative impact on German jobs, she replied: “We must talk, talk, talk. The kind of isolation Donald Trump apparently strives for would hurt everyone, including American business.” She added that “US business can have no interest in an escalation either.”

Zypries said, without specifying details, that some of what Trump has announced “is not compatible with the principles of the World Trade Organization.”

Zypries noted that 60% of German exports go to Europe and only about 10% to the United States. However, in 2015—last year’s statistics are not yet available—the US was Germany’s biggest single trading partner. German exports to the US totaled €113.7 billion ($122 billion), while imports were worth €60.2 billion.

On Tuesday, Peter Navarro, who is to lead a new White House council on trade, was quoted in the Financial Times as saying that Germany is using a “grossly undervalued” euro to “exploit” the US and its EU partners.

Chancellor Angela Merkel noted that the euro is overseen by the European Central Bank, and stressed Germany’s backing for the ECB’s independence—”so I can’t and don’t want to change anything about the situation.”

Beyond that, she said during a visit to Sweden Tuesday, “we try to succeed in world trade with competitive products, in fair competition with everyone else.”

Government officials have also suggested that German firms should take advantage of any trade opportunities in Asia and South America created by a more protectionist United States.

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