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Opening of New John Deere European Headquarters and Exhibition Hall
Ambassador William R. Timken, Jr.
Mannheim, October 26, 2007


As prepared for delivery.

Thank you, Mr. von Pentz, for that kind introduction. Ladies and gentlemen, it is a great pleasure to join you this morning at the inauguration of the new John Deere John Deere European Headquarters here in Mannheim.

John Deere is one of America’s great companies. One hundred and seventy years ago, a blacksmith named John Deere created the first commercially-successful, self-cleaning steel plow. His invention allowed farmers to cut through the sticky soil of the Midwest prairie without having to stop every few feet to clean the traditional cast iron plow blade. This "self-scouring plow," as John Deere called it, helped open the American frontier to agricultural development. Since 1837, John Deere has grown from a one-man blacksmith shop to a corporation that does business around the world and employs thousands of people. It has moved from plows and basic implements to highly automated, intelligent mobile machines with applications in multiple industries. The Mannheim facility is the second largest John Deere plant in the world.

There are many such examples of innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs. In 1838, my family of farmers arrived in the United States to use those Deere plows to open the land west of St. Louis. My own great-grandfather became a blacksmith, learned the carriage making trade as a young apprentice in America. In 1858, he started his own carriage company. He found a way to reduce friction in carriage axles. In 1898, he invented the tapered roller bearing at the dawn of the automobile industry. His invention has also since found application in countless other industry areas, even farm machinery.

It is clear that continuing and ongoing innovation is essential to economic growth and success. It is also clear, that as the people in this room know, Germany and the United States have a stake in the continued growth in each other’s countries. Open trade and investment are vital elements of the German-American relationship. The U.S. is the number-one destination for German investment. On the other side of the coin, the United States is Germany's third-largest source of investment, accounting for 17 percent of all foreign direct investment in Germany. Over 2000 American companies are located in Germany, with almost double that number of German companies located in the United States. All these numbers translate into 1.5 million jobs in our two countries.

Despite these statistics, there are impediments to trade and investment between the United States and Germany, and between the United States and the EU member states. Perhaps it is a mark of success, as well as a challenge for our deeper economic integration, that traditional tariff barriers no longer pose the primary impediment to transatlantic business. Rather, our bilateral challenges generally involve regulatory standards and practices.

One of the main achievements of the German EU presidency was the new framework agreement on economic integration between the United States and the European Union and the formation of a Transatlantic Economic Council.

The Transatlantic Economic Council, chaired by high-level officials on both sides of the Atlantic, focuses on improving cooperation to reduce those non-tariff barriers and regulatory obstacles and to promote transatlantic economic integration in intellectual property rights, investment, secure trade, financial markets, and innovation. Although many of these initiatives are very detail-oriented, collectively they have the potential to enhance openness, accountability, and cross-border investment. Greater openness in trade and investment between the US and Europe will have significance beyond our borders. Strengthening our cooperation will show the way in other regions to boost transparency and rule of law. This in turn can help unleash the potential of open markets on a level playing field. These efforts can help ensure globalization is a catalyst for economic growth and increased opportunities for people to work and earn a decent living.

While we will continue to resolve bilateral differences and deepen our trade ties, it is also important that we help contribute to the peaceful rise of emerging economies around the world. Pro-growth policies to encourage economic development in poor countries. Our leaders at the G8 in Germany this past summer called for greater involvement in African development, pointing specifically to boosting basic health and promoting the role of the private sector in development.

I would like to underscore the intensification of cooperation between Berlin and Washington. Germany's presidencies of the European Union Council and of the G8 came at a critical time for the international community and the bilateral German-American relationship. Chancellor Merkel and President Bush share a strong personal relationship. I have been present at most of their meetings, and will be there again when Chancellor Merkel visits President Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas next month. The tone of their conversations is open, constructive and proactive. Chancellor Merkel and President Bush have put forth a clear vision for partnership. This partnership has a wide scope – from cooperation on regulatory reforms and trade, to pushing for development in Africa and fighting terrorism.

I would like to conclude my remarks on a more personal note. Most of my professional life has been in the private sector but my experience in the past two years as Ambassador has confirmed my belief in the importance of close cooperation and communication between government and the private sector. That means, first of all, that the private sector cannot afford to sit on the sidelines. The private sector knows what policies are good for the economy.

Secondly, and I think this is crucial: companies need to do all they can to make the public aware of importance of the transatlantic economic relationship. That means jobs but it also includes the many initiatives that corporations, both American and German, are doing as good neighbors in the communities where they are situated.

International corporations are also the best partners governments have in meeting the challenges of the new and growing demands of global economic growth. As people in emerging markets become more affluent, they want to eat better, wear finer clothes, drive cars, and travel. The products and services of companies like John Deere are not only helping to feed and clothe the world, but are also helping to provide renewable energy, build much-needed infrastructure such as roads and bridges, and even beautify and maintain public spaces and private land.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the John Deere Corporation –and all the companies that play such a key role in the German-American partnership – for your commitment and engagement.

Thank you.

Any reference obtained from this server to a specific commercial product, process, or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement by the United States Government of the product, process, or service, or its producer or provider. The views and opinions expressed in any referenced document do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government.
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Updated: June 2008