(Corrects paragraph 8 to say that United States is not
Germany's biggest trading partner, but biggest export
By Irene Preisinger
MUNICH, Germany, March 13 German Chancellor
Angela Merkel said on Monday that free trade was important for
both the United States and Germany in a speech to business
leaders in Munich ahead of her trip to meet U.S. President
Donald Trump in Washington.
She also said that she believes it is essential to talk with
each other rather than about each other and would use that
philosophy as a guide to her talks with Trump.
"The United States of America is a key trading partner for
Germany and for the entire European Union," Merkel said ahead of
her visit on Tuesday.
"Trade is advantageous for both sides and I'm looking
forward to the chance to speak to the newly elected American
president about these issues."
Merkel also said: "I believe that direct, one-on-one
conversations are always much better than talking about each
other. Talking together instead about each other - that'll be my
slogan for this visit, which I'm really looking forward to."
Trump has called Merkel's decision to allow hundreds of
thousands of refugees into Germany a "catastrophic mistake".
He has also threatened to impose tariffs on German carmakers
that import into the U.S. market and has criticised Berlin for
not spending more on defence. Another source of tension is
Germany's 50 billion euro trade surplus with the United States.
Causes of friction between Berlin and the U.S.
administration also include an accusation by a senior Trump
adviser that Germany profits unfairly from a weak euro, and a
threat to impose 35 percent tariffs on imported vehicles.
The United States is Germany's biggest single export
destination, buying German goods and services worth 107 billion
euros ($114 billion) last year while exporting just 58 billion
euros' worth in return.
Merkel said that German companies employ about 750,000
people in the United States and a total of 1 to 2 million jobs
in the U.S. are indirectly dependent on German companies.
(Reporting by Irene Preisinger; writing by Erik Kirschbaum,
editing by Ed Osmond)