Germany Is Strong Enough to Weather Brexit, Merkel Minister Says

Updated on
  • Two-year timetable seen ambitious by economy minister Zypries
  • Says G-20 meeting in Germany is chance to talk with China

Zypries Says Germany to Weather Brexit

Germany’s economy minister says her country will weather Brexit because of its strong global market position, though a new European trade relationship with the U.K. also is needed.

“It’s a very ambitious program to negotiate Britain’s exit from the European Union within two years,” Brigitte Zypries, whose department has a voice in trade policy and helps promote German business abroad, said in an interview. “We will do everything we can to make it possible.”

While decades of British ties with other European Union countries make an impact inevitable, “Germany’s economy in particular is so well-positioned internationally that it can handle” Brexit, Zypries said. “And hopefully we will get trading rules that will allow trade in another form.”

The comments reflect confidence within German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government that fallout from the U.K.’s departure can be limited and that talks on the divorce terms must precede any post-Brexit trade deal. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, warned the U.K. this week against seeking parallel negotiations.

“For now, we’re proceeding on the assumption that we’ll get it done within two years and that an extension won’t be necessary,” Zypries said late Thursday in Dusseldorf, Germany, where she’s hosting talks among Group of 20 ministers on ways to steer the global economy’s use of digital technology.

With Brexit and U.S. threats of protectionist measures are causing concern in Germany, the world’s third-biggest exporter is reaching out to countries such as Japan and China as allies on free trade. Zypries said she and Chinese Industry Minister Miao Wei will meet during the G-20 talks, which conclude on Friday.

Topics include proposed Chinese emission rules to promote the use of electric vehicles that German carmakers would like to see eased. That would buy time for automakers such as Volkswagen AG and General Motors Co. to expand EV production.

“We will talk about the status of the negotiations between the Chinese and the Germans about the electric-car quotas,” Zypries said.

— With assistance by Elena Gergen-Constantine

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