(Corrects description of surplus in first paragraph to trade
By Anna Yukhananov
BERLIN, April 9 U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew
on Tuesday urged countries with a trade surplus to introduce
policies to help domestic consumption, in what appeared to be a
prod at Germany.
Lew was in Berlin for talks with his German counterpart.
Germany has the euro zone's biggest trade surplus and has in the
past rebuffed pressure to shift policy to bring about a
rebancing of commercial flows in Europe.
"The driver for economic growth has got to be consumer
demand ... policies to help to encourage consumer demand in
countries that have the capacity would be helpful," he said at a
news conference with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.
Lew has pressed European officials to moderate austerity
measures in order to boost growth, and called on surplus
countries like Germany to boost their consumption to help pull
the continent out of the doldrums.
Schaeuble and Lew tried to play down any differences in
their views, however, with the German arguing that growth and
budget consolidation were not mutually exclusive.
"Nobody, including in Europe, sees this contrast between
fiscal consolidation and growth. Our common position is of
growth-friendly consolidation or of sustainable growth, however
you want to call it," he told reporters.
Germany, Europe's biggest economy, argues that budgetary
rigor is not incompatible with growth, and is necessary to
convince markets that governments are sticking to their spending
diets in order to avoid another sovereign debt crisis
Lew emphasised that the United States wanted a strong
"As we continue to address many of our long-term challenges,
our economy's strength remains sensitive to events beyond our
shores. We have an immense stake in a prosperous Europe," he
He also said that there was a common interest in ensuring
that tax havens did not skew a level playing field.
On his first official visit to Europe, Lew met European
Union officials in Brussels and European Central Bank President
Mario Draghi in Frankfurt on Monday. He will travel to Paris
later on Tuesday to meet French Finance Minister Pierre
Lew is a budget expert, and close confidant to U.S.
President Barack Obama, which may help in his dealings with
European officials about deficits and debt.
(Additional reporting by Annika Breidthardt and Noah Barkin;
Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Stephen Brown/Jeremy