‘Germany Is Not Safe’ Despite Smaller Trade Surplus With U.S.: Trade Experts



Michael Nienaber | New York Times

Germany’s trade surplus with the United States narrowed slightly last year, data showed on Wednesday, but that is unlikely to assuage U.S. President Donald Trump who has stepped up his attacks on the European Union over trade.

German exports of goods to the United States in 2019 hit an all-time high, the Federal Statistics Office data showed, even though Germany also bought more U.S. vehicles, animal feed and pharmaceuticals in a modest rebalancing of trade.

Trump, long critical of Germany’s big surpluses, signaled on Monday that he wanted to restructure the more than $1 trillion U.S. trade relationship with the EU, raising the specter of another major tariff war as the global economy slows and he seeks re-election.

“Germany is not safe,” Gabriel Felbermayr, president of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, told Reuters.

After Trump claimed trade policy victories against China, Korea, Japan, Mexico and Canada, it is likely that he will now turn his anger towards the euro zone, said Felbermayr. Germany is the EU’s biggest economy and by far its biggest exporter.

“Even if the U.S. deficit with Germany has fallen a little bit, U.S. data suggest that the deficit with the euro zone has gone up quite substantially,” Felbermayr said, adding that Germany still accounts for more than 40% of that imbalance.

The U.S. trade deficit with Germany edged down by 1.5 billion euros to some 47 billion euros last year, helped by a surge in German imports, the new data showed.

Excluding services, German goods exports to the United States rose by 4.7% in 2019 to a record high of nearly 119 billion euros ($130 billion), the data showed.

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