German Chancellor Merkel warns Trump against protectionism

German Chancellor Merkel warns Trump against protectionism

Asked if she believed 'protectionist tendencies' by Trump could pose a threat, Merkel recalled the example of the 2008 global financial crisis, which she said came from the United States.

German Chancellor Merkel makes speech during CDU New Year reception in Mainz

BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Saturday (Jan 14) against protectionist tendencies of US President-elect Donald Trump and urged the United States to stick to multilateral cooperation, saying a trend towards protectionism was a risk to prosperity.

Merkel cited lessons learned in the 2008 global financial crash and stressing the need to "move forward together".

"My profound conviction is that there are more advantages... to moving forward together than when everyone resolves their problems for themselves. I am truly convinced of this," she told a press conference at a meeting of her CDU party.

Asked if she believed "protectionist tendencies" by Trump could pose a threat, Merkel recalled the example of the 2008 global financial crisis, which "came from the United States".

"As heads of state and government (of the G20), we said: 'We must resolve the problem facing us together,'" she said.

"And the response to overcome that financial crisis was not a response based on closing oneself off, but a response which called for cooperation, for common rules, for regulation of financial markets.

"I think this way worked, and naturally we are going to seek dialogue with the new American president," who will be inaugurated on January 20.

Asked when she would meet Trump for the first time, Merkel said a meeting was possible during a summit of the Group of Seven leading economic powers, which takes place in Sicily in May, and the G20 summit that Germany is hosting in July.

In her weekly podcast, Merkel said the German economy was doing "relatively well" but should not rest on its laurels. She urged companies to adapt to the challenge of digitisation.

"There are also international risks. We see protectionist tendencies," Merkel said, without naming Trump.

Business leaders have said the German economy could suffer from a protectionist US trade policy, and that growth could be dented.

The economy grew by 1.9 per cent in 2016, the fastest pace in five years, as rising private and state spending helped to cement its position as the locomotive of the euro zone.

On the campaign trail, Trump notably threatened to take protectionist measures against Chinese and Mexican imports, and claimed a first success with a decision by US motor giant Ford not to build a new plant in Mexico.

Trump's attitude has fuelled concern in Germany: On Thursday, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he was "perplexed" by Trump comparing the leak of a dossier of unsubstantiated allegations against him to something that could have happened in Nazi Germany.

During the US campaign, Steinmeier was even more damning, saying the prospect of a Trump presidency was "frightening" for the world.

He compared Trump to a "hate preacher", saying he had much in common with "fearmongers" in Germany's right-wing populist AfD party and advocates of Britain's exit from the EU.

Source: AFP/Reuters/dt