Germany is using a “grossly undervalued” euro to exploit the US and its EU partners, Donald Trump’s top trade adviser has said in comments that are likely to trigger alarm in Europe’s largest economy.

Peter Navarro, the head of Mr Trump’s new National Trade Council, told the Financial Times the euro was like an “implicit Deutsche Mark” whose low valuation gave Germany an advantage over its main partners. His views suggest the new administration is focusing on currency as part of its hard-charging approach on trade ties.

In a departure from past US policy, Mr Navarro also called Germany one of the main hurdles to a US trade deal with the EU and declared talks with the bloc over a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership dead.

Mr Trump’s administration is focusing on bilateral deals rather than the broad multilateral accords pursued by Barack Obama, his predecessor.

“A big obstacle to viewing TTIP as a bilateral deal is Germany, which continues to exploit other countries in the EU as well as the US with an ‘implicit Deutsche Mark’ that is grossly undervalued,” Mr Navarro said. “The German structural imbalance in trade with the rest of the EU and the US underscores the economic heterogeneity [diversity] within the EU — ergo, this is a multilateral deal in bilateral dress.”

The comments highlight a growing willingness by the Trump administration to antagonise EU leaders and particularly Angela Merkel , the German chancellor. Besides publicly supporting Mrs May’s government in its negotiations with the EU over the terms of its exit, Mr Trump called the EU a vehicle for Germany, and Nato an obsolete alliance.

Mr Navarro’s intervention follows a visit to Washington last week by Theresa May, the British prime minister, in which she and Mr Trump discussed ways to launch negotiations for a US-UK trade deal.

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