German FM in favor of state aid for automakers
The German auto industry is "the spinal cord of our economy," Steinmeier told the Welt am Sonntag.
Berlin -- Germany's foreign minister and Social Democrat rival to conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel says he is in favor of state aid for German automakers, a German Sunday newspaper reported.
The German auto industry is "the spinal cord of our economy," Steinmeier told the Welt am Sonntag, according to advance copies. It is Germany's largest industry and biggest export.
"We must also stimulate the purchasing of automobiles with state incentives," such as a tax break, said Steinmeier, a member of Germany's "grand coalition" government and expected rival to Merkel in next year's general election.
New car registrations in Germany slumped by 18 percent in November compared with the same month last year, according to the auto manufacturers' association VDA.
For the entire year 2008, VDA says car sales are expected to hit their lowest level since the reunification of west and East Germany in 1990, at less than 3.1 million vehicles. Sales are expected to be even worse in 2009.
One out of seven German workers is directly or indirectly involved in the car industry, according to VDA.
The US auto industry dodged almost certain collapse last week when the US government extended 13.4 billion dollars (9.5 billion euros) in loans to cash-strapped General Motors and Chrysler.
Merkel, who has been criticized for not doing enough to help Europe's biggest economy out of recession, has called a cabinet meeting for January 5 to discuss a second stimulus package.