April 19, 2017 / 1:09 AM / 2 years ago

ECB rate hike would help reduce German current account surplus: media

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble in Brussels, Belgium March 20, 2017. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BERLIN (Reuters) - The German government believes an interest rate increase by the European Central Bank (ECB) would help to reduce Germany’s often-criticized export surplus, the Funke Mediengruppe newspaper chain reported Wednesday.

The newspaper cited an eight-page paper prepared by the German finance and economics ministries which Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble plans to present at the spring meeting of the International Monetary Fund later this week.

Schaeuble is a longtime critic of the ECB’s current ultra-low interest rate policy.

The new paper does not call for the ECB to raise interest rates, but said tighter monetary policy would be in line with European economic recovery and would reduce Germany’s current account surplus due to an expected strengthening of the euro.

“Economic growth in the eurozone and inflationary developments could spur the ECB to begin a normalization of its monetary policy,” the paper said, according to the media report. “A stronger euro would automatically reduce the trade surplus.”

U.S. President Donald Trump and other U.S. officials have taken aim at Germany’s high current account surplus.

A senior German government official on Tuesday said it expected additional pressure from Washington to cut its surplus at IMF and G20 meetings this week.

The German government paper reiterated Berlin’s view that the trade surplus was mainly due to the quality of its products and the decisions of private consumers and companies.

It also noted that Germany had no influence on the monetary policy of the ECB, and that trade policy was decided by the EU.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; editing by Andrew Roche

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