Commentary on Political Economy

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

The US must put a gun to the temple of Germany's proto-Nazi ruling elites. We know the game they are playing: they sympathize with the Butchers of Beijing because essentially these rotten beasts never ceased to be  and act like Nazis - even in the running of their industries and finance. The US must put it bluntly to these rotten Nazi beasts: you are either with us or you are against us. And if you are against us we will instantly destroy all your industries - especially the automotive - by imposing 100% tariffs on your Nazi car-makers - Volkswagen, Mercedes, Porsche - and your Nazi chemical firms, from BASF to Siemens to Thyssen-Krupp. We will bring you to your knees, you filthy Nazi rats!

U.S.-China Tensions Leave Germany Squirming in the Middle

China has become as important to Germany’s economy as the U.S., making it hard for Berlin to pick sides in the superpower rivalry

Cars intended for export in Bremerhaven, Germany, April 24. For Germany’s auto manufacturers, China is the No. 1 market.

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Germany is struggling to pick sides in the escalating dispute between the U.S. and China over issues ranging from trade to human rights, amid mounting American pressure and Beijing’s authoritarian drift.
Of all advanced economies outside Asia, Germany has the deepest economic ties in both camps and would have the most to lose from a Cold War between Washington and Beijing.
Berlin’s snaking trade links with China and the U.S. have served Germany well in the past two decades, providing it with steady growth, near full employment and full public coffers that have allowed the deployment of more than €1 trillion ($1.13 trillion) in measures to support its economy during the pandemic.
Now, Germany’s reluctance to take sides is diluting Europe’s broader efforts to present a united front to China, undermining the bloc’s power to shape a new global architecture.
The U.S. helped build modern Germany, and the two countries have been bound since the end of World War II by shared values, democratic institutions, and a web of international agreements and partnerships.
Yet seen from Berlin, any choice between China and the U.S. is finely balanced. Indeed Germany’s export-oriented economic model means it can’t really choose at all. It needs both.
Take trade.
China is Germany’s largest trading partner; the U.S. its biggest export market. And they stand neck-and-neck: Last year, Germany exported €119 billion worth of goods to the U.S. and €96 billion to China.
Listed German companies make almost a fifth of their revenues in both the U.S. and China, says Joerg Kraemer, chief economist at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.
“Why should we pick sides?” said Joerg Wuttke, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China and chief local representative for German chemicals company BASF SE. “Particularly in times of recession that is the last thing anyone wants.”
Around 28% of jobs in Germany are directly or indirectly linked to exports, and in manufacturing that figure is 56%, according to the German Ministry for Economic Affairs. Germany exports nearly as much as the U.S. despite having only one-quarter the population.
In a rare distinction among Western economies, Germany has had a relatively balanced trade relationship with China. Germany’s world-beating engineering companies supplied the factory equipment and the infrastructure that powered China’s transformation into the world’s top manufacturer. Harnessed to the fast-growing giant, Germany rebounded strongly after the financial crisis and weathered the eurozone debt crisis.
Business executives hope they can repeat the feat this year.
Offshore ProfitsGermany‘s savings have increasinglyexceeded domestic investment, creatingworld-record foreign surpluses...Current account balance as a percentage ofGDP
%GermanyChinaU.S.2001'10-10-50510 imbalance that Germany resolves byexporting on a massive scale...Total value of exports by country, 2000 to2018
...especially to China and the U.S.Trade with Germany, 2019Sources: World Bank (current account balance,exports); Destasis (Germany trade)Note: €1 billion=$1.12 billion
Exports from GermanyImports to GermanyChinaNetherlandsU.S.FranceItaly€0 billion€100€200
For Germany’s influential auto manufacturers, China is already the No. 1 market. Last month Volkswagen AG delivered 330,000 vehicles in China, up 6% on the previous year and accounting for more than half of its total global sales.
“I can’t imagine Volkswagen without China,” said Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, director of the Center Automotive Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen.
Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess, who refers to China as his company’s “second home,” has recently praised China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. The company said last month it would pour $2 billion into China’s electric-car market.
“Germany wants to do business with China, we want more market access, that’s our main priority,” said Mikko Huotari, executive director of the Mercator Institute for China in Berlin. That remains true even as China conducts political maneuvers that are increasingly difficult to ignore, such as recent clampdowns in Hong Kong and the autonomous region of Xinjiang, Mr. Huotari said.
Other European nations are far less economically intertwined with China: Germany exports roughly three times as much to China as France and Italy combined, according to data from the World Bank.
The U.S. market remains critical for Germany, too. As swaths of the U.S. manufacturing industry shifted to China in recent decades, German businesses stepped in to replace the engineering know-how that was lost.
German machinery exports to the U.S. grew much faster than those to China over the past decade, increasing by between 6% and 10% a year, said Ulrich Ackermann, managing director for foreign trade at the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association, a trade body.
“In many mechanical engineering fields the U.S. is dependent on foreign products, for example there are really no high-quality machine tool producers left,” in the U.S., Mr. Ackermann said.
But Germans are now much less enthusiastic about the U.S. than other Europeans, according to recent polls. That reflects both antipathy toward President Trump and unease about past U.S. policies, from the Iraq war to the National Security Agency’s spying on European citizens and leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Germans now see their country’s relationship with China as equally important to their relationship with the U.S., according to a survey published last month by the Pew Research Center.
Germans “are fairly cynical about shared values with the U.S.,” said Mareike Ohlberg, senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States in Berlin.
To be sure, German officials have also expressed deep unease about China’s authoritarian drift and mounting frustration with its refusal to budge on key economic concerns.
Earlier this month, Ms. Merkel’s office abruptly said that a long-planned summit meeting of all EU leaders and the Chinese leadership, scheduled for September in the east German city of Leipzig, would be postponed indefinitely.
Ostensibly, the reason was the coronavirus pandemic. But officials say the real reason was the lack of willingness by Chinese President Xi Jinping to sign up to European demands for a far-reaching investment deal.
That deal, wrought through seven years of negotiations, was expected to improve market access to European companies and protect their investments, according to German officials.


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This month Germany signed on to a joint statement by the Group of Seven foreign ministers calling on China not to follow through with plans to impose national security legislation on Hong Kong. Ms. Merkel hadn’t previously spoken up on the issue.
In private, many German executives say they are running out of patience with China’s bureaucratic obstacles, forced technology transfers, subsidies and assorted protectionist barriers long seen as the price for accessing the billion-strong market. Some are calling for Berlin to copy President Trump’s tough approach to Beijing.
Germany’s midsize engineering companies, often family-owned and bank-financed, worry they are facing off against giant state-funded Chinese companies that benefit from vast economies of scale and produce everything in-house.
The Federation of German Industries, the nation’s main industrial lobby group, published a paper last year with proposals, including softening Europe’s competition rules to help create bigger companies that could better contend with China.
And yet Berlin has shied away from channeling this frustration into concrete policies that could harm its economy.
The country has resisted recent U.S. pressure to close its market to Huawei Technologies Inc., for instance, amid a debate over whether the Chinese IT giant constituted an espionage risk.
During a three-day visit to China last June, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier met with Huawei’s founder and chairman, Ren Zhengfei, in Shanghai for an hour-long breakfast.
“It goes without saying that a company that operates to this extent in Germany can present its point of view to the relevant minister,” said Mr. Altmaier after the meeting, speaking during a panel discussion with students from Tongji University in Shanghai.
Meanwhile German companies are increasingly adjusting their strategies in China to a world with two separate technological spheres, by bringing more research and development into China and trying to shorten supply chains, said Jens Hildebrandt, managing director of the German Chamber of Commerce in China.
A withdrawal from the Chinese market would be “economic suicide” for Germany, said Mr. Hildebrandt.
“What market in the world is a real alternative to China in terms of growth and growth potential?” 

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