Germany's economy minister has voiced concern at new White House orders to study US trade deficits. Berlin is closely watching developments on trade policy in the US, one of Germany's biggest trading partners.
Following US President Donald Trump's executive orders signed on Friday to review causes of US trade deficits, Germany's Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries said US President Donald Trump is signaling policy decisions that would send the country in "completely the wrong direction."
"The US obviously wants to move away from free trade and trade agreements," Zypries said in an interview with the German weekly "Welt am Sonntag," adding, "We must seek constructive dialogue and explain that the reasons for the US trade deficit are not just abroad."
The orders that Trump signed will look into why it has trade deficits with some of its most important partners, including China, Canada and Germany.
Trump repeated on Friday claims that he made throughout his campaign about seeking to bring back industrial jobs to the US. Before signing the orders, he said it was time to "correct" bad agreements with other countries and claimed that "thousands of factories have been stolen from our country."
Zypries is scheduled to meet with Trump in May, and said she would discuss the trade deficit with him.
"We must seek constructive dialogue and explain that the reasons for the US trade deficit are not just abroad," said Zypries, who also criticized a lack of clear communication and communication channels concerning trade under the new Trump administration.
Germany's Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has said he shares Zypries' concerns. Gabriel told German newspaper "Rheinische Post" that Trump's executive orders signaled the US government "is ready to favor American companies, even if it contradicts international law."
Deficit by the numbers
According to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, the US trade deficit was $502 billion (471 billion euros) in 2016, an increase of $1.9 billion from 2015. As for the US trade deficit with Germany, Germany's Federal Statistics Office says the deficit nearly doubled in the previous decade from 28.8 billion euros in 2006 to 49 billion euros in 2016.
Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro previously accused Germany of exploiting countries through a "grossly undervalued" euro. Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel responded by saying the European Central Bank was in charge of the euro.
Gabriel told the EU on Friday to consider filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over a US plan to impose duties on steel plate imports from eight countries including Germany. The plan to impose duties came from one of Trump's executive orders signed on Friday and also includes steel imports from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
kbd/gsw (AFP, dpa, Reuters)