Germany to focus on free trade at G20
Merkel hints it may agree to creating a Eurozone budget
24 June, 2017
Germany wants to make progress in its presidency of the G20 on improving free and fair trade and will try to get broad agreement on open markets at next month's leaders' summit, Chancellor Angela Merkel said last Tuesday. She cautioned, however, that this might not be easy with US President Donald Trump who has made waves with his protectionist rhetoric.
“Open markets and free, fair sustainable and inclusive trade is a key focus of our G20 presidency,” said Merkel, who will host the G20 in Hamburg next month. She added that such conditions were beneficial for everyone and globalisation was not just fate but rather a process that could be shaped on the basis of Germany's belief in the social market economy.
“We'll do all we can to get as broad an agreement on this as possible in Hamburg. Given the new American administration that's not easy but nonetheless we need to make the effort,” Merkel told an event hosted by the BDI industry association. She added that G20 leaders would also discuss the steel industry, saying that progress needed to be made on the issues of overcapacity and fair competition in the sector.
The findings of an investigation by Trump's administration into whether foreign-made steel imports pose a risk to US national security are expected to be released later this week. German Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries has written a letter to US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in which she criticized Washington's plans to take action against steel imports, a German newspaper reported on Tuesday.
Separately, Merkel says she could back a Eurozone finance minister and Eurozone budget “if the circumstances are right”. “We could also consider a euro-budget if it is clear that we are really strengthening the structure of the economy and doing sensible things,” she said. French President Emmanuel Macron has argued strongly for both, in order to reform the Eurozone. Germany is wary of any move that might lead to a 'transfer union' - a common budget used to prop up indebted governments in the 19-nation Eurozone.
The Berlin government does not want German taxpayers to have to underwrite high spending elsewhere in the EU without oversight. Merkel said sensible changes could be introduced if they could be sure of improving the lives of European citizens, including generating work for young people. Reforming the Eurozone remains a challenge.