Germans defend exports as US Treasury's Lew visits

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 8, 2014 at 9:04 am •  Published: January 8, 2014

BERLIN (AP) — Germany's finance minister dismissed criticism of his country's export strength as his U.S. counterpart pressed for Europe's biggest economy to do more to fuel domestic demand.

Germany has long faced criticism from the U.S. and others for relying too heavily on its exports and, some contend, not importing enough to boost other economies in Europe.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew was visiting Berlin, part of a trip that also includes France and Portugal, as official data showed Germany's trade surplus widening further.

"We continue to believe that policies that would promote more domestic investment and demand would be good for the German economy and the global economy," Lew told a news conference after meeting German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's weeks-old government, an alliance of right and left, is planning to introduce a national minimum wage and invest in infrastructure. But it is broadly keeping unchanged its approach to Europe's debt crisis, in which it has made cutting budget deficits a priority.

Lew stressed the importance of "getting the balance right" between promoting short-term growth and getting public finances in order, and said that policy decisions by Germany's new government "are consistent with that approach."

Germany's Federal Statistical Office reported a trade surplus for November of 17.8 billion euros ($24.2 billion), up from 16.7 billion the previous month. Exports rose 0.3 percent to 93.2 billion euros when adjusted for seasonal and calendar factors, while imports declined 1.1 percent to 75.4 billion euros.

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