Why Trump is attacking Germany over trade

Trump keeps up criticism of Germany

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer later followed up by saying the president had "tremendous respect" for Germany and that Trump "was not aggressive on [the] German trade surplus".

When Trump returned over the weekend from the first foreign trip of his presidency, his aides hailed the tour as a success and a sign of renewed and bolder United States leadership on the world stage.

"Trump's insistence on 2-percent contribution of GDP for military purposes seems nearly created to call the Europeans' bluff on their commitment to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation because it is clear that virtually non of the countries in Europe are going to meet that 2 percent target and of course all this business about a European army in substitute for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is simply a non-starter", he added. At a time when the US leadership and protection is so strongly sought, the Trump administration has refused to undertake the burdens of responsibility alone.

In his latest attack on Berlin, Trump tweeted that the U.S. was running a huge trade deficit with Germany, having previously complained that too many German cars were bought on the US.

Trump is said to be leaning toward pulling the USA out of the climate-change agreement after other Group of Seven leaders failed to win him over at a summit in Italy last week.

German officials have insisted that, as a member of the European Union, they can not conduct bilateral trade talks with the United States and that they are not ready to dramatically increase military spending. In the case of Germany, it's mostly due to the weak euro.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) attends a welcome ceremony held by German chancellor Angela Merkel before an annual meeting between Chinese and German heads of government in Berlin, Germany, May 31, 2017.

"The Germans are bad, very bad", said Trump, according to the magazine.

Trump unsettled Merkel and other European allies in a speech at NATO's ostentatious new $1.23 billion headquarters in Brussels.

Expounding her answer in Berlin on Tuesday, Merkel continued by saying that United States relations would retain the utmost importance irrespective of the Indo-German and German-Chinese talks which, she added, began a long time ago.

Not only does the spat continue but Merkel has seized upon it as an opportunity - in the wake of the election of Emmanuel Macron as a pro-Europe French president - to rally Europe around her leadership.

Europe needs to step up its presence on the global stage, for example by bringing about solutions to issues such as the Libya conflict, migration and economic problems including unemployment, she said. All told the USA has about 100,000 troops based in Europe with roughly a third of those in Germany.

"This becomes an interesting game of who is a better match for Trump", commented Kristine Berzina, a trans-Atlantic fellow with the German Marshall Fund.

And he warned against "accelerating climate change by weakening environmental protection". Trump also opted against endorsing the Paris climate agreement and has said he will make a decision on possible USA withdrawal Thursday.

- Resume EU trade talks?

But she said her priority was achieving certainty for European Union citizens in Britain and Britons in the European Union after Brexit, though this was just one task of many in a withdrawal process whose consequences would be felt years into the future.

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