Germany's surplus not harming euro zone -Eurogroup head
* Germany's surplus is the world biggest, beats China
* Germany been criticised by U.S. over surplus
* Dijsselbloem says surplus reflects complexity of economies
By Martin Santa
BRUSSELS, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Germany's persistently high current account surplus is not putting the euro zone economy at risk, the chairman of euro zone finance ministers said on Thursday, dismissing U.S. concerns.
Germany's surplus probably hit a new record in 2013 of about $260 billion, even greater than China, the Ifo think tank said in January, prompting Berlin to pledge to boost domestic spending and investment.
Germany has had a current account surplus in excess of 6 percent of its gross domestic product since 2007, meaning it exports far more than it imports from the rest of the world.
"We now say Germany's economy is very strong and that is now a problem. I don't believe so," Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who is also the Dutch finance minister, told reporters in Brussels.
Following criticism from the United States that Germany is relying too heavily on exports, the European Commission decided in November to analyse in detail whether the surplus was a sign of a serious economic risk in the making.
"My answer to any criticism coming from the U.S. is: deal with your own problem. You know there's something strange about the U.S. telling Europe all the time what we are doing wrong and how we should do it better," Dijsselbloem said.
The German economy expanded a bit faster then expected in the last quarter of 2013 and the Economy Ministry sees gross domestic product growth of 1.8 percent this year, a much stronger expansion than in 2013.
Dijsselbloem said Germany's current account surplus also reflected output from across Europe because industries export parts to Germany for assembly, which Germany then exports to the rest of the world. Car parts, for example, come from across Europe, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
"The German car industry is no longer German," he said.
"It's being exported from Germany and it comes back in the surplus of Germany. Is that a problem? No ... Germans import a lot of parts from Italy, from Spain, from Belgium."
The European Commission's in-depth review of the German surplus is likely to be finished in February or March.
If it concludes that the surplus is excessive and harmful, the Commission will recommend steps to rectify the problem.
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