Altmaier on a difficult Mission in China


The dispute between the United States and China draws circles. Every second German company already denounced trade barriers. On his visit to China, economy Minister Altmaier against taxes. From Berlin, Sabine Kinkartz.

Germany is an export nation. Every second job in industry depends on world trade, on the whole of the German economy is concerned, it is every fourth Job. Therefore, the companies fear so much as protectionism. However, the increases around the globe, more and more. The German chambers of industry and Commerce (DIHK) has recently started the Alarm. In a survey every second German company to be since the last year of trade barriers affected.

“The export expectations are at their lowest for ten years – also because the companies in their activities abroad, often with barriers, such as tariffs or localization constraints in favour of domestic competitors faced,” said DIHK President Eric Schweitzer. It is primarily the dispute between the United States and China, fueled this development. For months, the world’s two largest economies put on the world powers to each other with criminal and special duties.

Germany as a mediator

Federal Minister Peter Altmaier (CDU) does not want to watch idly, and his three-day visit to China to convey. You have to talk and find solutions. “It makes little sense, thousands of kilometers away each other, casting blame,” said Altmaier, prior to his departure in an Interview with the Reuters news Agency. It is already his second China Visit this year.

Peter Altmaier with China’s Voze-Premier Liu He in April in Beijing

In Beijing, the Minister of the economy, will on Wednesday (19.06.) To meet Xiao Yaqing, the Minister for the regulation of the Market, Miao Wei, the Minister of industry and information technology and He Lifeng, the Chairman of the National development and reform Commission interviews. On Thursday morning, Altmaier with Vice is meet-Prime-Minister Liu He. Then it’s on to Shanghai, where discussions with representatives of the German economy are planned in China and company visits to the offices of BMW and BASF. At Tongji University Altmaier will take part in a discussion on the Social market economy.

Caution is advised

De-escalation, so Altmaiers Mission. “We appeal to all Parties to seek negotiated solutions and to respect the existing multilateral structures and instruments.” This applies to China and the United States alike, says the Minister of economic Affairs, wants to avoid the impression that Germany wanted to ally with China against the Americans. The threat of U.S. President Donald Trump, car imports from Europe, but also to demonstrate in the future with higher taxes, like a sword of Damocles over the German car manufacturers.

But you will hear in Beijing the guest from Berlin? The Chinese are talking about Germany is currently very good. The relationship is frosty, and not only, since in Berlin on the participation of the Chinese technology group Huawei in the German 5G network will be discussed. The mood toward his country have deteriorated significantly, said the head of the Chinese chamber of Commerce in Germany, Wei Duan, recently in Berlin. “The business climate is the worst in history.”

Chinese investors would be hampered in Germany, their commitment is depicted as a threat. “We have to ask ourselves: What are the Federal politicians want? You want to block all the Chinese investments? Should we go even to Germany? Worse is yet to come?”, Wei Duan asked.

Naive to China? That was yesterday

Ironically, Peter Altmaier is for this development is a large piece of responsibility. For a year, the CDU-politician leads the Ministry of Economics in Berlin. In this time, the external sector was tightened regulation. The Prüfschwelle for foreign investment in German companies has been reduced from 25 to ten percent. The list of technologies that are classified as “safety relevant,” has been greatly expanded. The Federal government can now insert your Veto, if you feared, strategic investments and Acquisitions from the far East.

To Altmaiers “German industry strategy to 2030”, which should already be in the autumn finally on the way comes. As the Minister presented to you in February in Berlin, he warned explicitly against an economic by March of the Chinese at the expense of the Western industrial Nations. Altmaier wants to keep it he wants to continue to expand, for example, in the field of artificial intelligence, European and national Champions. It should also give state aid, i.e. money.

And the business is (still) good

In the boardrooms of the German economy, it is not excited. On the other hand, the managers know that in dealing with China strength is required. The people’s Republic was 2018, once again Germany’s largest trading partner. The volume of trade amounts to around 200 billion euros. China is in the entire Asia-Pacific Region the most important market for German exports. In 2018, were sold to a value of around 93 billion euros there was an increase of eight percent.

Also the number of German companies producing in China, has continued to grow. In 2016, the Germans were direct investment in China to around 76 billion euros. That’s the equivalent of 6.8 percent of Germany’s total foreign investment. However, foreign companies are subjected to in China is still considerable restrictions. “We experience that the Communist party does not claim to be complete control of all social and economic areas,” complained the President of the Federal Association of German industries, Dieter Kempf, recently in Berlin. The state sector will be further strengthened, ideology plays a prominent role.

Same game rules for all

Also want to appeal to the Federal Economics Minister, Peter Altmaier, in Beijing. It is about equal rights for companies, a comparable level of market access, the protection of intellectual property rights, and the waiver of state subsidies. “On all these issues, I am speaking with my Chinese colleagues and I hope that we can get solutions step closer,” announced the Minister, will be accompanied on his trip by a 20-member Delegation from the ranks of the German economy.

It is a roadmap should be developed, how it should go forward in the coming months and years. “We don’t have endless amounts of time. Therefore, concrete progress needs to be soon recognizable.” This also applies to the planned Reform of the world trade organization WTO. In this point, Altmaier has a particularly tricky negotiating position. Because in one part of the reform proposals of the German agreement with China, in a different but with the United States.

Berlin – Beijing – Berlin – Washington

In addition, the Federal Economics wants to speak to the Minister shortly, also with the Americans directly. After the trip to China, Peter Altmaier, is planning a visit in the United States. Shuttle diplomacy it’s called in political circles. For Germany, much more is at stake than just the Position of an impartial mediator. Altmaier, can only hope that he finds in Beijing and Washington hearing. Otherwise, the German, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung ran the headline could be powers, in trade disputes, also for the game ball between the big.