Germany's exports to the United States in the first half of this year were worth 24.4 billion euros ($28.3 billion) more than its imports of U.S. goods, data from the Federal Statistics Office showed on Friday.
The trade surplus was 100 million euros less than last year, but still meant Germany has the largest trade surplus with the United States than any other country, something U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to reverse.
Germany's trade surplus has also come under attack from the International Monetary Fund, which says it contributes to trade tensions and adds to risks that could undermine global financial stability.
Germany's trade surplus with the whole world was 121.5 billion euros in the first half, slightly higher that last year.
The IMF has urged the German government to boost investments beyond the levels agreed by Chancellor Angela Merkel's government which plans to increase spending by 4 percent this year. Higher government spending would stimulate imports.
Trump hit the European Union, Canada and Mexico with tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminium at the start of June, ending exemptions that had been in place since March. The EU and Canada responded with their own levies on U.S. goods.
China imposed tariffs on U.S. goods in response to Trump's levies on Chinese imports, spooking German manufacturers who rely on the world's two largest economies for growth.
Fears of an all-out trade war between the U.S. and the European Union eased after Trump agreed last month to refrain from imposing tariffs on cars imported from the bloc while the two sides negotiate cuts to other trade barriers.
Germany's exports to the United States - its biggest export market - rose 0.8 percent to 56.1 billion euros in the first six months of the year. France was the second-largest importer of German goods, followed by the Netherlands
German ministry: No decision yet on Iran bid to withdraw cash
The German finance ministry on Wednesday denied a media report suggesting it would give Iran permission to withdraw 300 million euros ($348 million) in cash from bank accounts held in Germany, a plan that is strongly opposed by the United States.Iran's request was still being studied, the ministry said in a statement. "Press reports about a so-called release of the funds through the customs office ... are not accurate. The screening processes have not yet been completed."German weekly newspaper Die Zeit reported on Wednesday that the ministry's Financial Intelligence Unit had concluded the withdrawal would not violate German counter-terrorism laws and it had found no evidence the money could wind up in the wrong hands.The U.S. government is pressing Germany to reject Iran's bid to withdraw the cash from the Europaeisch-Iranische Handelsbank AG (eihbank) because it says the money could be transferred to fund armed groups in the Middle East.The U.S. embassy in Berlin this week said it expected Germany to block the cash withdrawal under new central bank rules on money laundering that take effect on Aug. 25.Die Zeit said Washington had threatened to impose sanctions against the German central bank if it approved Iran's request.Washington has announced new sanctions on Iran and ordered all countries to stop buying Iranian oil by November and foreign firms to stop doing business there or face U.S. blacklists.Iran argues it needs the cash for Iranian citizens travelling abroad since they cannot access recognised credit cards.The changes in Bundesbank rules will allow German authorities to demand explanations about the end destination of large cash withdrawals - which could allow the Iranian request to be denied.
Germany reaches first deal with Spain to return migrants
The German government has agreed with Madrid that it can send back to Spain migrants who have already applied for asylum there, a spokeswoman for the interior ministry said on Wednesday, in what is the first deal of its kind.The move comes after a dispute between Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and their Bavarian allies over returning migrants that nearly split them and brought down the government.Interior Ministry spokeswoman Eleonore Petermann said the two EU countries had signed the deal on Monday that would, from Saturday, enable them to send such migrants back to Spain within 48 hours. Spain did not require anything in return, she added.A Spanish government spokeswoman said the deal was part of the agreements reached in the last European summit on migration in late June. She said Spain accepted Germany's demand to send back asylum seekers who got to Germany from Spain.Spain has become the new main entry point for asylum-seekers fleeing Africa. Around 19,000 asylum-seekers arrived in the first five months of this year, almost as many as in all of 2017, eclipsing for the first time the numbers flowing through north Africa to Italy.Galeri: Migrants in Spain's AlgercirasMore than 1.6 million migrants have arrived in Germany since mid-2014, provoking tensions and propelling the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) into the national parliament.German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, leader of Christian Social Union (CSU) - the Bavarian sister party to Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) - is keen to show he is taking action to reduce immigration as his party faces a tough October regional election in which the AfD is expected to fare well.Germany is seeking similar deals with Italy and Greece. The discussions with those countries are still going on, Petermann said, adding that both Italy and Greece had made counterdemands.Germany wants mutual relations with Turkey to normalizeMerkel is due to meet Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez at the weekend and migration will feature in their talks, a spokeswoman for the German government said.Sanchez pushed migration up the agenda shortly after he took office in June by accepting the Aquarius, an NGO boat carrying 629 migrants that was blocked from docking in Italy and Malta, and says Spain is committed to a joint European response to illegal migration.Until now it has only been possible to reject migrants at the border if they enter Germany via a safe neighbouring country without the necessary documents to enter and do not want to apply for asylum here.But those who wanted to apply for asylum in Germany could enter up until now even if they had already applied in another country.
German bond yields pinned near almost two-week lows
Borrowing costs for euro zone benchmark issuer Germany were pinned near their lowest levels in almost two weeks on Tuesday as concerns about global trade and turbulence in Italy continued to support demand for the least risky assets.While Italian bond yields have pulled back from two-month highs hit on Friday, analysts said the market remained vulnerable to political noise especially at a time when thin summer trading can exacerbate market moves.Uncertainty about what scale of fiscal largesse to expect from upcoming Italian budget talks given a pledge by the anti-establishment government to ramp up spending has unnerved financial markets.Senior government officials will meet on Wednesday to discuss next year's budget, Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Tuesday.Italian government senior officials to meet Wednesday to discuss budgetThose uncertainties, plus simmering trade-war fears, have helped push yields on Germany's benchmark 10-year Bund yield down by 11 basis points from seven-week highs set last week. It was trading at 0.39 percent, close to almost two-week lows hit on Monday."What is remarkable at the moment is the strength in core bond markets," said Commerzbank rates strategist Rainer Guntermann. "There is a fundamental case for investors to remain more risk-averse given the Italian budget talks coming up."Di Maio said the coalition government will hold several meetings to define the budget.Senior officials of the new executive said after a meeting last week they had reached a compromise on the outline of the next budget.Italian bond yields were a touch higher early on Tuesday but that move was in line with the broader euro zone debt market.In Japan, meanwhile, 30-year bond yields hit a nine-month high ahead of an auction later this week.Japanese yields have risen sharply in the last week as markets tested limits of the Bank of Japan's commitment to allow yields to move more flexibly.There was some focus on a Reuters story that the Bank of Japan has abandoned two attempts to raise rates this year.The U.S. Treasury will kick off its latest auction round later in the day with a $34 billion sale of three-year bonds.