Remarks to the German American Business Council "May Ball"
Anthony Wayne, Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs
you, Bernd, for your introduction and kind words. Thanks to you and also to Don
Neese and Steve Williams for the invitation to come and address the Inaugural
German American Business Council May Ball – this is truly a grand event. I also
wish to recognize and thank Deputy Prime Minister General Schoenbohm for taking
the time and effort to come here and be with us tonight. Let me also recognize
Congressman Buechner and the work of the Congressional Study Group on Germany.
The Study Group has done invaluable work in furthering bilateral relations by
bringing together German and American legislators. |
The German American Business Council, though existing in its present form for less than a year, is rapidly making a name for itself. It is quickly becoming one of the leading German-American business associations. The presence of this distinguished audience of senior officials, respected Members of Congress, such as Congressman Oberstar, and executives from dozens of U.S. and German companies, reflects the strength and vitality not only of the economic relationship, but also the historic U.S.–German partnership.
Events such as this remind Americans and Germans of our unique relationship, which has served as a cornerstone of the transatlantic partnership for 60 years. The U.S.–German relationship rests on pillars that include our vast economic and commercial ties, our shared values, and our shared history. Recall that more Americans trace their ancestry to Germany than to any other nation, and that some 15 million American soldiers and their families have lived in Germany over the last two generations.
Let me start by commenting on the state of the U.S.-German economic relationship. The importance of our economic relationship was made especially clear during the past two years of disagreements over the use of military force in Iraq. Despite this difference of views, we continued to cooperate extensively on a host of other issues important to us both. Our economic relationship, in particular, continued to grow and to serve as a reminder of our interdependence. This experience underscores the important role that the business community plays in contributing to the transatlantic dialogue, a role that we should not take for granted. I applaud those in this room who have been so central to maintaining a constructive dialogue across the Atlantic.
Furthermore, I believe it is worth taking a moment to review the numbers behind the major trade and investment ties between the United States and Germany, because they provide such a strong foundation for the relationship. The statistics of U.S. trade and investment with Germany are remarkable. Total U.S.-Germany bilateral trade exceeds $100 billion a year. America is Germany’s second largest two-way trading partner and Germany is America’s fifth largest trading partner. Total two-way foreign direct investment flows between the United States and Germany are also high- exceeding $10 billion a year. The stock of German foreign direct investment in America is impressive. At nearly $200 billion, German investment here comprises roughly a quarter of all German overseas investment. In the other direction, America has approximately $100 billion invested in Germany, which is approximately 15 percent of the total U.S. foreign direct investment globally.
Behind the figures on trade and investment, however, are people. One of the most important aspects of the transatlantic economic relationship is the number of jobs that are created by the close integration of our two markets. In 2002, 3,375 German companies (that is, 15% of all German firms abroad) accounted for nearly 800,000 jobs in the USA. And nearly 1,400 U.S. companies generated 475,000 jobs in Germany (or 23% of all jobs provided by foreign firms in Germany). These figures are clear evidence of the vitality of our economic partnership, and demonstrate the simple fact that Germany is critical to the U.S. economy and vice-versa. Furthermore, these economic and commercial links continue to strengthen as global trends further integrate our markets.
But the relationship is evolving, even as it grows. The United States and Germany will never return to precisely the same relationship that we had throughout the Cold War. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Soviet Union the character of European security has changed. Moreover, the focal points of American policy in the post-September 11 world are different. We now recognize that future cooperation will be based on our shared interests and goals, rather than on the external threats of the Cold War. But the historic changes that brought about the end of the Cold War happened as a result of transatlantic cooperation, and were among our greatest successes. Necessarily, those changes also altered the nature of the U.S.–Germany relationship. So rather than mourn the loss of our old relationship, we now have the challenge and the opportunity to shape the substance of our new 21st Century partnership.
President Bush’s visit to Mainz in February was a clear sign of the importance he attaches to Germany. The visit has gone a long way towards setting forth the U.S.–Germany agenda for the President’s second term. The Bush administration is actively engaged with Germany and our European allies and friends in building a new strategic consensus and partnership. And, from the Balkans, to Afghanistan, to Iraq, we are working together to expand freedom and democracy as well as to build prosperity.
I also wish to turn to one of the greater challenges to strengthening U.S. and European relations, which is to improve our publics’ opinion of each other. Our differences over Iraq have revealed misconceptions of each other’s policies and goals, misconceptions that do not do justice to the mutual respect our two countries continue to share. Leaders on both sides of the Atlantic are seeking ways to increase mutual understanding between our citizens. One solution to this will be found in recognizing the shared values and visions of Europeans and Americans, as well as the costs of not working together. The U.S. and Germany are part of the small group of nations in the world promoting tolerance, respect for human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law. After all, if the U.S. and Germany and our partner democracies do not lead the fight for these principles, then who will? From where I sit, there is no alternative to transatlantic cooperation in this area as in many others.
I believe that the business community has an important role to play in helping to improve public perceptions, and we should think about how we can build on the existing strong economic ties to foster understanding. Academic and corporate exchange programs are excellent vehicles for promoting transatlantic communication. I encourage all of you here tonight to consider how such programs might be enhanced.
As I have tried to argue, the stakes now are as high as they have ever been, but the opportunity for improved relations is also better than it has been in recent years. Strengthening the German-American relationship -- indeed the entire transatlantic relationship -- is critical if we are to succeed in finding solutions to the challenges we face in confronting global terrorism, tyranny, poverty, hunger and disease. These problems are simply too large for any one nation to solve alone. The U.S. and Europe can achieve much more by acting together than either of us can do on our own.
Few countries know the importance of freedom and democracy better than Germany, with its tragic history and historic accomplishments in building a society that values tolerance and produces prosperity. The United States looks forward to working together with Germany to strengthen and build freedom, democracy and prosperity around the world. I trust that the German American Business Council will be an important player in that work.
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Updated: December 2005