In an interview published on Monday, French Finance Minister Michel Sapin rejected claims that the ECB manipulates the euro exchange rate for competitive or trade reasons. Sapin’s remark echoes those made by other politicians, who have also rejected currency manipulation claims made by the U.S.
Earlier in the month, Peter Navarro, U.S. President Trump’s senior trade advisor, accused Germany of exploiting the exchange rate to improve trade. German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected Navarro’s claim.
In an interview with the Handelsblatt newspaper, Sapin said the ECB makes monetary policy decisions independent of individual member countries, and the single currency moves freely.
“These attacks clearly make no sense for a number of reasons,” Sapin said. “The ECB never tries to manipulate the exchange rate of the euro to achieve trade or competitive policy goals.”
Sapin added that the euro is the single currency of the entire euro region, and on an international scale, the surplus of the region as a whole is what matters. FX trade on the euro is largely dependent on the euro zone’s performance overall, not just the performance of Germany or other independent member countries, he said.
The Finance Minister said he hoped Trump would understand the advantages and the importance of the U.S.’s relationship with the European Union.
EU officials are still working on lifting growth in the bloc. Structural reforms in individual states is also on the agenda, but investment is needed, Sapin says.
“Germany could be more ambitious in this area,” he said. Europe needs to restore investment levels to what they were before the global financial crisis struck. Sapin says focusing on one area will make the adjustments difficult to follow.
Sapin’s comments fuel external pressure and keep the debate over what to do with Germany’s trade surplus open for discussion. The country’s surplus has continuously broken records since 2008.
Germany’s trade surplus figures from last Thursday put the country in the spotlight. The European power exported €1.2 trillion in 2016 with €253 billion more exports than imports on the year. Exports rose by 1.2% while imports rose to €955 billion, up just 0.6% on the year.
The European Commission has called on the country to boost internal consumption. Officials suggest that internal consumption will help negate the sluggish growth in the EU, Germany’s finance minister is focusing on debt reductions and tax cuts in 2017.
Berlin has been accused of exploiting other countries in the EU by U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade advisor Peter Navarro.