The United States runs a large account surplus with Europe if services are included in the total, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday, adding that existing international trade accounting systems needed to be updated.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly complained about large trade deficits the United States runs with many countries, in particular with manufacturing export powerhouse Germany, and has threatened Europe with punitive tariffs in response.
"Trade surpluses are calculated in a relatively old-fashioned way nowadays," she told an audience of businessmen in Berlin. "If services are included in the trade balance, then the US runs a big surplus with Europe. And the share of services will grow."
She was speaking a few days after disputes over trade led to the annual G7 summit of the world's largest developed economies ending in disarray.