Friday 8 February 2019 4:36 pm

Finance minister insists German economy ‘not in crisis’ despite growth slowdown

German finance minister Olaf Scholz attempted a spirited defence of his country’s economy today, insisting it is “not in crisis” despite weakening growth.

Angela Merkel’s finance minister rejected claims Germany is heading for a recession and played down the Eurozone powerhouse’s economic troubles on a rare visit to London.

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“It’s not a crisis and it won’t be in the next few years, it’s just a slowdown in growth,” he said.

But he did warn the slowdown could put the strain on Germany’s public finances, in an interview with the Financial Times.

His comments came after the country’s weakest annual growth in five years in 2018 was followed up by a sluggish start to 2019.

After expressing concerns over Brexit during a keynote speech hosted by Bloomberg, Scholz turned his attention to Donald Trump, criticising the US president for his penchant for imposing tariffs.

In response to reports the US could apply tariffs to car imports from Europe, he said: “I think increasing tariffs is not a good idea.”

“I hope things like this could be avoided."

“The best thing we can do for growth and wealth is rules-based free trade. I hope that we will have a better situation so that we can get again more global trade agreements,” he added.

Scholz also dismissed reports that the German government was ready to broke a merger between Deutsche Bank and rival Commerzbank as “speculation.”

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Merkel’s finance minister said he was “working very hard” with the German banking sector as a whole, regarding its future.

Reports earlier this month suggested that the crisis-hit German lender could be set for a merger with Commerzbank by the middle of this year, if its ongoing restructuring failed to meet targets.