Trump’s administration has a new target on trade — and it’s not China or Mexico

By Ana Swanson

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (Volker Hartmann/Getty Images)

President Trump’s top trade adviser said Germany was using a “grossly undervalued” euro to “exploit” its trading partners in Europe and the U.S., comments that triggered a spike in the euro’s value to a one-week high.

In comments to the Financial Times, Peter Navarro, the head of Trump’s National Trade Council and an architect of many of the administration’s trade policies, also declared a proposed trade agreement between the United States and Europe to be dead, citing Germany’s currency as an impediment.

Trump’s tough campaign rhetoric regarding trade has long fueled speculation of tensions with China and Mexico, countries that export large volumes of cheap goods to the United States. But Navarro’s aggressive statements against Germany and the European Union appear to have taken markets and European leaders by surprise.

Navarro’s comments appear to reflect a deep antipathy on the part of the Trump administration to multilateral trade deals and institutions, an attitude that has unsettled U.S. allies in Europe and around the globe in recent weeks.

On Jan. 23, his first full day in office, Trump declared his intention to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an Obama-era trade deal that Trump claimed would kill American manufacturing jobs. During the campaign, Trump also announced his intention to renegotiate the U.S. free trade deal with Canada and Mexico, and called the primary military alliance between Europe and the U.S. “obsolete.”

In his comments, Navarro cited Germany as a main obstacle to a proposed U.S.-E.U. trade deal called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP. “A big obstacle to viewing TTIP as a bilateral deal is Germany, which continues to exploit other countries in the E.U. as well as the U.S. with an ‘implicit Deutsche Mark’ that is grossly undervalued,” he said.

Angela Merkel responded Tuesday by …read more