Jan. 24 - German finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, says growth in the euro zone is looking up - and that Germany has played a big part in the nascent recovery. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, he added that reducing Germany's controversial trade surplus would have a negative effect on its euro zone partners. David Pollard reports.
Without us, the euro zone recession would have been much worse..... With those words, Wolfgang Schaeuble did some flag-waving for the German economy when he spoke at Davos. The finance minister told his audience that the euro zone was looking up. SOUNDBITE (German) GERMAN FINANCE MINISTER, WOLFGANG SCHAEUBLE, SAYING: "We are not at the end of all of our efforts, but we are on a good path, and incidentally, economically too. The euro zone has come out of recession. The recession wasn't worse because Germany was an engine for growth." The return of growth is very much the theme - and the hope - of this year's World Economic Forum. Schaeuble said German exports had played their part - and progress had been made on the thorny issue of reducing Germany's ballooning trade surplus. But adding that cutting exports in order to do so would have unintended consequences. SOUNDBITE (German) GERMAN FINANCE MINISTER, WOLFGANG SCHAEUBLE, SAYING: "If we were to export less, then the economic development and growth in our partner countries would really suffer." And on another thorny issue - criticism that Germany is foot-dragging on progress towards European banking union - Schaeuble had little new to say. A disappointment to investors like Mike Ingram of BGC Partners. SOUNDBITE (English) MIKE INGRAM, MARKET STRATEGIST, BGC PARTNERS, SAYING: ''We need our banking union in the euro zone for the euro zone economies to move forward on a sustainable basis, and so Germany needs to throw its weight behind that project.'' But Schaeuble did go on to throw his weight behind France. It's strong, he said, and he was optimistic that France and Germany would be able to take Europe forward together.