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German minister: Trump's protectionism a threat to Germany's economy

Germany's minister for economic affairs has voiced "alarm" over some of the actions US President Donald Trump has taken since entering office. She warned that his protectionist policies endanger the German economy.

In an interview with the daily mass-market "Bild" newspaper, new German Minister for Economic Affairs Brigitte Zypries said she found the US administration's aggressive global stance troubling.

"What we've been experiencing for last 10 days is both alarming and irritating," Zypries told the paper. "It's moving in completely the wrong direction."

Germany is Europe's largest economy and the world's leading export nation. Only about 10 percent of exports from German companies go to the United States, while Europe accounts for 60 percent. Still, Zypries said a closed off US market would be "bad for the German economy and therefore also for jobs."

She said the German government needed to "talk, talk, talk" because "the kind of isolation, which Donald Trump is clearly seeking, is detrimental to everyone, including the American economy."

She added that Trump's protectionist economic plan was "incompatible with the principles of the World Trade Organization" and would "also hit people in the US negatively because the US economy depends on high-quality sub-contracting." 

Trump puts "America first"

Last week, Trump signed a controversial executive order temporarily banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. He also pledged to build a wall on the US border with Mexico and has threatened to impose heavy border taxes on manufactured goods from outside the country, especially goods from Mexico.

"In a globally networked economy, there can be no discrimination based on religion or origin," Zypries said. "We are on the side of the workers and expect them to be able to pursue their activities unhindered. We can only hope that the US government will quickly recognize this mistake and correct it."

Watch video 02:08

Trumponomics unease

Zypries' concerns were echoed by Joe Kaeser, the head of German engineering giant Siemens. He told a press conference in Munich on Wednesday he was worried about the "tone" of the latest actions from the US, which do not "fit our perception of this country."

"America became great thanks to immigrants," he said.

Earlier in the week, Trump advisor on trade Peter Navarro accused Germany of using a "grossly undervalued" euro to "exploit" the US and its EU partners.

Chancellor Angela Merkel responded to the comments, pointing out that both the euro and monetary policy were a matter for the European Central Bank. Speaking during a visit to Sweden on Tuesday, Merkel said "we try to succeed in world trade with competitive products, in fair competition with everyone else."

nm/sms (Reuters, dpa)

 

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