WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump took aim at German trade practices and defense spending Tuesday following pointed criticism from Chancellor Angela Merkel that Germany may not be able to rely on its allies.
“We have a MASSIVE trade deficit with Germany, plus they pay FAR LESS than they should on NATO & military. Very bad for U.S. This will change,” Trump wrote in a tweet.
Last week, White House spokespeople had denied that Trump criticized German trade practices after the German newspaper Der Spiegel quoted him as having done so.
Trump unsettled Merkel and other allies during the recent NATO summit when, during his remarks, he did not mention the central commitment members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization make to defend each other.
Trump’s policy toward climate change is another point of contention with many European countries. Trump promised during the election to tear up the landmark Paris climate accord.
Merkel said the conversation with the U.S. on climate change last week during the G-7 meetings in Sicily, which followed the NATO summit, was “extremely difficult.”
During a campaign speech in Munich on Sunday, Merkel said Germany must rethink how much it can rely on its allies. “The era in which we could rely completely on others is gone, at least partially,” Merkel said. “I have experienced that over the last several days.”
In a 2014 meeting, NATO defense ministers agreed that each state would move toward a goal of raising military spending to 2 percent of its annual economic output by the year 2024. German defense spending is below that goal.
The U.S. trade deficit with Germany shrank to $65 billion in 2016 from $75 billion the year before.
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