April 19, 2018 / 4:18 PM / a year ago

Germany wants to 'strengthen and deepen' U.S. ties: Finance Minister

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz presents the annual customs report during a news conference in Berlin, Germany, April 17, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Germany wants to “strengthen and deepen” its ties with the United States, Finance Minister said in Washington on Thursday, adding that protectionism was never beneficial to any party.

Scholz, in Washington for a meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), made his comments ahead of a visit by Chancellor Angela Merkel to the U.S. capital on April 27, when she is due to meet U.S. President Donald Trump.

Merkel earlier stressed the importance to Germany of its trans-Atlantic relationship with the United States, despite their differences. Scholz echoed her message.

“We want to strengthen and deepen our ties with the U.S.,” he said in the text of speech for delivery to the German Marshall Fund in Washington. “And we want the U.S. to recognize that a strong, integrated EU is in its own interests.”

Turning to the issue of protectionism, Scholz added: “Protectionism has never been to the benefit of any party. The national route has never been the right one to take. On the contrary.”

Merkel’s visit, three days after a state visit to the U.S. capital by French President Emmanuel Macron, gives her opportunity to lobby for the European Union to be exempted permanently from U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs.

The tariffs are suspended for the EU until May 1.

A month after Germany’s new coalition government took office, Scholz said he would stick to Berlin’s policy of fiscal prudence.

“A sound budgetary policy is one of the reasons why Germany is doing so well at the moment. And we will continue with this budget policy in the new government,” he said.

Reporting by Gernot Heller; Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Michael Nienaber

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