France's Macron Says German Trade Surplus Harmful to EU Economy

  • Germany’s economic strength not viable in current form: Macron
  • Relationship with Merkel, Schulz ‘sincere’, Macron tells Funke

France’s independent presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron, tied with far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in polls before the election, said Germany’s large trade surplus is harmful to the euro-zone economy and called for more balance.

“Germany benefits from the imbalances within the euro zone and achieves very high trade surpluses,” centrist candidate Macron said in an interview published Monday with Germany’s Funke Mediengruppe and France’s Ouest-France newspaper. “Those aren’t a good thing either for Germany or for the economy of the euro zone. There should be a rebalancing.”

People walk past election campaign posters showing Le Pen and Macron, in Paris.

Photographer: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Germany’s growing export surplus has raised concerns for the global economy as well as the European Union after reaching a record in 2016. U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade adviser accused the nation of exploiting a “grossly undervalued” euro. Critics say that Germany’s dominance is undermining EU nations’ economies and urge its government to take steps to boost domestic demand and imports. 

Macron, 39, is tied with Le Pen, an anti-immigration, EU-skeptic candidate, with 22 percent support for the first round of France’s election on April 23, according to an Ipsos/Sopra Steria poll for Le Monde. The most unpredictable presidential vote in a generation has become a four-way race with far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon surging alongside Republican Francois Fillon.

A potential change in German government policy would require France to finally tackle structural reforms, Macron said.

“As long as we’re delaying those we cannot expect Germany to trust us, after we already disappointed in 2003 and 2007,” he said. Macron added that his relationships with Chancellor Angela Merkel and center-left SPD Chairman Martin Schulz were “quite sincere.”

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