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Germany's trade surplus may fuel U.S. tensions

Thursday, February 09, 2017 - 01:48

Germany's trade surplus climbed to a record high in 2016, days after U.S. President Donald Trump's top trade adviser accused Berlin of exploiting a ''grossly undervalued'' euro to its advantage. Sonia Legg reports.

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Germany's clearly going places but not everyone will be impressed with its 2016 record trade surplus. At just under 253 billion euros it easily surpassed the previous high reached just a year earlier - the trend all too clear for some. Just days ago Donald Trump's trade advisor Peter Navarro accused Berlin of exploiting a "grossly overvalued" euro to its advantage. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PANMURE GORDON CHIEF ECONOMIST, SIMON FRENCH, SAYING: "From an ideological point of view, Trump, Navarro, Wilbur Ross - they are absolutely right, these trade imbalances, these currency mix matches are a big problem for the global economy I am just not convinced the solution is the kind of protectionist rhetoric we have seen thus far." Germany's 2016 current account surplus also impressed. At $284 billion it's the world's largest - beating even China by a wide margin. In contrast the U.S. runs a deficit in its balance of trade and current accounts. It and the European Commission have urged Germany to increase domestic demand and imports, to reduce economic imbalances, globally and in the euro zone. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PANMURE GORDON CHIEF ECONOMIST, SIMON FRENCH, SAYING: "The reality is the euro is priced at a level that is a weighted average of all euro zone countries and that will always mean that for some countries that is a too competitive rate leading to a trade surplus and that is certainly the case with Germany." Germany says it's increased domestic demand by introducing a national minimum wage and raising pension entitlements. It's also a noted critic of ECB monetary policy. But that's unlikely to appease Trump or safeguard global free trade. And Germany hopes to do that while presiding over the G20 this year, with the motto "Shaping an Interconnected World"

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Germany's trade surplus may fuel U.S. tensions

Thursday, February 09, 2017 - 01:48