Germany's trade surplus "neither good nor evil" - government spokesman

At last the stars are aligned for European defence
At last the stars are aligned for European defence Commentary Nick Witney

27 May, 2017

Trump has long voiced his frustrations with Germany's trade surplus with the USA, insisting that German imports have damaged the U.S. manufacturing industry.

When asked about Trump's comments on German trade as reported in Der Spiegel, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker confirmed the gist of them while pointing out that they'd been exaggerated due to a translation error.

He described the Germans as "bad, very bad" in regards to worldwide trade and vowed to put a halt to German vehicle imports into the U.S. "Look at the millions of cars that they sell in the U.S. awful. Terrible! We'll stop that", Trump said, according to sources inside who spoke with the magazine.

Germany is far from alone in being lopsided with America with regards to autos.

Under Merkel's tenure, Germany has become the third largest exporter in the world. Merkel countered it was the responsibility of deficit countries, like the United States, to improve their competitiveness. Speaking to pool reporters earlier today, chief economic advisor Gary Cohn said that Trump was speaking specifically about trade and that he doesn't have a problem with Germany.

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U.S. President Donald Trump, and the leaders of six other wealthy democracies - France, Britain, Japan, Germany, Italy and Canada - are in Taormina, Sicily for this year's G-7 summit at the 5-star San Domenico Palace hotel.

While the the second-largest export market for German automakers and the manufacturers are adding or expanding Mexican production facilities, the US remains an important source of their global production.

But Trump specifically pointed to the amount of German vehicles that were sold in the United States, according to their article. A weaker euro has helped the export performance.

This is not the first time this basic misunderstanding has cropped up. Also, Trump tweeted before the meeting that " it will be a very hard one in that we can no longer have massive trade deficits and job losses". He added, "the U.S. needs to build better cars" if Americans are choosing German cars over American-made autos. It's with Mexico and Japan that the USA has the biggest vehicle trade shortfalls. The study has a mandate of 90 days to analyze the issue country country-by-country and product-by-product, the report said.

But some of that has been undone by now-viral images of the billionaire tycoon shoving his way past other leaders at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels on Thursday, and by his reported comments on Germany.

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