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Germany’s Steinmeier wants help for auto sector

  The German government should create incentives for consumers to buy cars, Vice Chancellor Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a newspaper interview published on Sunday.

Germany’s carmakers are suffering from collapsing global demand. In November, BMW reported a 25.4% drop in group vehicle sales. Rival Mercedes-Benz said sales at its cars division fell by 25.2%. “It is the backbone of our economy,” Steinmeier said of the sector. “So we must use state means to create incentives to buy cars,” he told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

Close to one in five workers in Germany is directly or indirectly employed in the auto sector. Cars and car parts made up a fifth of German exports last year, official data show. Steinmeier is Germany’s foreign minister and also the Social Democrats’ (SPD) candidate for chancellor in a federal election due next September.

The SPD shares power in an awkward coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives. Merkel has said she will look at possible fresh steps to stimulate the economy in January. She meets leaders of the coalition parties on Jan. 5. (Reuters)