BERLIN Reinstating border controls within Europe's passport-free Schengen zone because of the migrant crisis would significantly increase costs for Germany's foreign trade, national trade organizations told German media on Wednesday.
"About 70 percent of German foreign trade takes place within Europe, particularly with countries of the euro zone," Anton Boerner, head of the BGA trade federation, told newspaper Tagesspiegel.
"The cost for international road transport alone would increase by about three billion euros ($3.27 billion)."
Stefan Genth, head of the HDE retail group, said checks would severely impact the transport of goods throughout Europe due to delays at the borders.
European Union member states are bitterly divided over the handling of an influx of migrants and refugees fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and North Africa. Germany took in 1.1 million last year.
The failure to agree on joint measures to handle the crisis has put the Schengen zone, with its 26 European members, on the verge of collapse.
German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt on Monday urged Chancellor Angela Merkel to prepare to close the country's borders to stem the influx, arguing Berlin must act alone if it cannot reach a Europe-wide deal on refugees.
Merkel has resisted calls to shut the borders and tried to convince other European countries to take in quotas of refugees, pushed for reception centers to be built on Europe's external borders and led an EU campaign to convince Turkey to keep refugees from entering the bloc.
But pressure to put a cap on the number of refugees entering Germany is growing on Merkel after women were sexually assaulted in the western city of Cologne on New Year's Eve. Police have blamed many of the attacks on groups of migrant men, mainly from North Africa.
On Tuesday, European Council President Donald Tusk said Europe had no more than two months to get the migration crisis under control and prevent a collapse of its passport-free travel zone.
Foreign trade last year contributed 0.2 percent to Germany's gross domestic product.
(Reporting by Tina Bellon; Editing by Janet Lawrence)
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Updated Date: Jan 20, 2016 04:16 AM