Jan 08 - German exports have risen again as the euro zone's largest economy welcomes the U.S. Treasury Secretary. But Jack Lew still said Germany is closer to balancing growth with fiscal consolidation. As Joanna Partridge reports, he pointed to German plans to introduce a minimum wage and boost investments in infrastructure.
Unlike the German economy, Chancellor Angela Merkel is not in great shape following a cross-country skiing accident. She chaired the first cabinet meeting of the year, as data showed German industrial orders rose more than expected in November, boosted by demand from abroad. Exports also rose for the fourth month in a row in November, and imports dropped sharply. That's pushed the trade surplus higher. The figures were released as U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew visited Germany. During his last trip in April 2013, he indirectly criticised Berlin's policies and called on Germany to boost domestic demand. This time, he said Germany has made improvements. SOUNDBITE: U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY, JACK LEW, SAYING (English): "I think we've seen very constructive movement to get the balance right between fiscal consolidation and growth. We can continue to discuss where that balance should be but it has moved in the right direction from our perspective over the year." Lew's also impressed by the European recovery, but wants to see stable growth. He and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble agree that's the way to avoid further crises, in Europe and elsewhere. SOUNDBITE: GERMAN FINANCE MINISTER, WOLFGANG SCHAEUBLE, SAYING (German): "We must keep an eye on liquidity levels in financial markets to ensure new bubbles and new crises aren't being created. Important steps have been taken over the past months in all parts of the global economy." Boosting growth is another major concern for the Americans. They believe the best way to do that is to use euro zone taxpayers' money to help troubled banks. But Lew's unlikely to find many who agree in Germany - Berlin doesn't want its citizens handing over any bailout cash to banks in indebted countries.