Europe News

Germany says its current account surplus will shrink in coming years

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives to testify before a parliament inquiry committee in Berlin, Germany, March 8, 2017.
Fabrizio Bensch | Reuters

Germany's large current account surplus is the result of the competitiveness of the German economy and the government has no influence over it, the finance ministry said in a report on Thursday, adding that the surplus will shrink in coming years.

The new U.S. administration has accused Germany of exploiting a weak euro to gain a trade advantage and called for bilateral discussions to reduce the $65 billion U.S. trade deficit with Germany.

The finance ministry said in its monthly report that rising private consumption, an eventual normalisation of the European Central Bank's expansionary monetary policy and demographic factors in Germany are likely to narrow the surplus.

"The German current account surplus is the result of many factors. Above all it is the result of the exceptional competitiveness of the German economy," the ministry said.

It added: "The current account in Germany is not controlled by the state. In any case, possible economic and political actions (to influence the account) would be very limited."

Germany has been relying on private consumption and increased state spending for growth as exports weaken.

The finance ministry said the current account, which stood at 8.3 percent of output in 2016, would fall to 8 percent by 2018. It stood at 8.6 percent of gross domestic product in 2015.

The European Commission and the International Monetary Fund have urged Germany to take advantage of record-low borrowing costs and increase investment to reduce the country's large trade and current account surpluses.

In 2016, the German trade surplus hit a fresh record at 253 billion euros ($273.49 billion). The wider current account surplus, which measures the flow of goods, services and investments into and out of a country, rose to an all-time high of 266 billion euros.