‘America First’ is no strategy for growth, jobs: German minister

Zypries attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Berlin

BERLIN (Reuters) – The “America First” trade policy advocated by U.S. President Donald Trump is no recipe for generating more economic growth and jobs and it is up to Europeans to convince him of that, Germany’s economy minister said on Wednesday.

Brigitte Zypries cited a study by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) as showing that open trade was crucial to economic prosperity.

“So it is all the more important that we in Germany, that we as Europeans, convince the USA that ‘America First’ is not a strategy for more growth and jobs,” she said at a business event hosted by her center-left Social Democrats (SPD) in Berlin.

Trump wants an “America First” trade policy with better-negotiated trade deals and stronger enforcement of U.S. trade laws.

Financial leaders of the world’s biggest economies dropped a pledge earlier this month to keep global trade free and open, acquiescing to an increasingly protectionist United States after a two-day meeting failed to yield a compromise.

Breaking a decade-long tradition of endorsing open trade, G20 finance ministers and central bankers made only a token reference to trade in their communique at the meeting in Baden Baden, hosted by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.

Zypries said the change of U.S. policy under Trump’s administration meant it would be hard for Germany to make progress during its presidency of the G20 this year.

“We saw at colleague Schaeuble’s meeting in Baden Baden that things are not particularly easy in the G20 framework at the moment,” she said, adding that Trump’s administration had also played a “backwards role” on data protection and climate policy.

“The United States has not only loosened environmental standards but also data protection standards,” she said.

“Not good news for us,” she added, and this would make it harder to make a success of a debut meeting of G20 ministers responsible for digitization in early April.

(Reporting by Gernot Heller; writing by Paul Carrel; editing by Mark Heinrich)