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The eurozone current account surplus has hit its highest level since the start of economic and monetary union in 1999, likely emboldening critics who have accused the bloc’s largest economy of “exploiting” a weak exchange rate.

Latest figures from the European Central Bank estimate the surplus hit 3.4 per cent of GDP in 2016 – a climb from around 3.1 per cent from 2015. The current account, which measures the eurozone’s balance in goods and income, has swung dramatically into surplus since the eurozone’s sovereign debt crisis calmed around 2012 (see chart above).

It has been pushed higher by a record surplus in Germany, which has come underfire from the new White House administration for riding off a weak euro to boost its competitiveness at the expense of its rivals in the US and China.

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