Merkel to Enlist Trump, Warns of ‘Protectionist Tendencies’

Updated on
  • Chancellor says she’ll encourage Trump to seek common ground
  • No meeting with Trump scheduled yet ahead of inauguration

Chancellor Angela Merkel said she’ll try to encourage President-elect Donald Trump to join other nations to address the global economy as she warned against the looming risk of protectionism this year.

As Germany takes the chairmanship of the Group of 20 advanced industrial nations, Merkel said it was the G-20’s commitment to finding a common solution that rescued the world from the financial crisis in the last decade. She said her government “will of course seek out discussions” with Trump in that context.

Angela Merkel speaks at the CDU meeting on Jan. 14.

Photographer: Oliver Dietze/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

“My firm conviction is that we have more advantages in partnership, when we act together, than when all of us try to solve our problems on our own,” Merkel told reporters at a party meeting in the western German region of Saarland on Saturday.

The German leader said her advisers were in contact with Trump’s staff and that no meeting was planned before Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, and the two leaders could see each other at the Group of Seven meeting in Italy in May and the G-20 summit in Hamburg in July.

“If there’s anything beyond that then we will announce that at the appropriate time,” Merkel said.

Trump will take office with an automatically fraught relationship with Merkel, whose handling of the region’s refugee crisis he called “insane” during the campaign -- predicting that she wouldn’t be re-elected. Trump has also denounced global trade agreements that Merkel has embraced throughout her political career.

Merkel on Saturday released a weekly podcast in which she urged Germans not to take the country’s robust economic growth for granted, citing “protectionist tendencies” as a risk to the expansion that accelerated to the fastest pace in five years in 2016.

Angela Merkel at the CDU meeting on Jan. 13.

Photographer: Oliver Dietze/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

“The economic situation right now is quite good,” Merkel said as she embarks on a campaign to seek her fourth term as leader. Even as she cited a strong labor market, a shortage of workers in some areas and increase in gross wages, Merkel said that “we can’t be complacent with this economic dynamic.”

Merkel met with leaders of her Christian Democratic Union near the border with Luxembourg to flesh out an election strategy, which will include touting strong growth and budget surpluses to address inequality. The chancellor cited a lag in progress in the digital economy, where she proposed setting up an independent ministry.

“Germany in many areas has to move forward quickly,” she said in the podcast.

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