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Dijsselbloem Says All of Europe Benefits From German Exports

Feb. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem defended Germany’s trade surplus, saying it is not to blame for the euro area’s sluggish recovery.

The strength of Germany’s export-led economy boosts all of Europe and isn’t harming competitiveness in the south, said Dijsselbloem, who leads meetings of the currency region’s finance ministers.

“The vast majority of the exports of Germany go outside the euro zone so basically Germany is making money for all of us in Asia, and I hope they continue doing so,” Dijsselbloem told members of the European Parliament in Brussels today.

The European Commission, the European Union’s regulatory arm, is investigating whether Germany, the largest economy in the 18-nation euro area, has damaged competitiveness in the region’s weaker economies and pus upward pressure on the euro.

Germany’s current-account surplus has exceeded the area’s 6 percent threshold every year since 2007, said the commission, which is due to report back next month on the investigation of the surplus it opened in November.

“Companies from all over Europe are working for the German car industry, building parts and supplying parts of the cars that are then being sent to Asia,” Dijsselbloem told the parliament’s economic and monetary affairs committee. “So let’s please stay doing that; let’s stay making money as Europe, every country on its own, but certainly also together in exporting on world markets where there are opportunities for us.”

Germany’s trade surplus was also criticized last year by the International Monetary Fund and the U.S Treasury, which blamed German surpluses for draining European and global growth.

“My answer to any question to criticism coming from the U.S. is, ’Deal with your own problems,’” Dijsselbloem told reporters after his appearance in the parliament. “There’s something strange about the U.S. telling Europe all the time what we’re doing wrong and how we should do it better.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Ian Wishart in Brussels at iwishart@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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