American threats are causing real anxiety at the highest levels of German business. On Tuesday, industry organizations met with government officials to discuss the prospect of fresh sanctions on companies dealing with Iran as well as Russia. “There will be major, major concern,” said Michael Harms, the director of the German Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations.
fresh Russian sanctions could hit German business hardest of all. Despite existing restrictions, German companies have been key from the recent increase in foreign investment in Russia, which quadrupled between 2015 as well as 2016. There are around 5,000 German firms doing business in Russia, including many household names. Carmaker Daimler will be building a factory near Moscow, chemicals giant BASF will be expanding production in St. Petersburg, as well as conglomerate Siemens sells gas turbines to Siberia. from the first half of 2017, German-Russian trade increased 25 percent.
As America gears up to impose its will on global business, all in which could be under threat. American enforcement of sanctions can be ruthless, hunting down every possible US connection of foreign firms seen as trading with the enemy. Using a US-based server, or just having an employee that has a US social security number could be enough to trigger the wrath of Uncle Sam, putting billions of dollars of trade at risk.
There will be little individual companies can do. “Legal measures against extraterritorial sanctions are extremely limited,” says Gabriel Felbermayr, a trade expert with Munich’s ifo Institute for Economic Research.
“Instead of common responsibility, today we have ‘America first’.”
US sanctions policy will be alienating long-standing friends of the United States. Friedrich Merz, a former Christian Democrat parliamentarian, as well as chairman of Atlantik-Brücke, an organization devoted to German-American ties, says the European Union must increase pressure on the US. Extra-territorial sanctions are “completely unacceptable,” he says.
The Europeans have not completely given up desire of changing American minds. German, French as well as British diplomats have mobilized their diplomatic resources in a massive campaign on Capitol Hill, looking to persuade the US Senate to stick with the Iran nuclear deal.
So what should Germany’s strategy be? Persuasion seems unlikely to work on its own, least of all with President Trump. Previous American presidents liked to be constructive. however the fresh York property developer prides himself on being a political vandal.
Alternatives include a search for fresh strategic alliances. The recent trade deal with Japan may point the way, perhaps blazing a trail for India, South Korea as well as Latin American countries. German relations with China may also soon grow closer: ironically enough, since Mr. Trump’s election, the Chinese Communist Party has posed as a loyal champion of global free trade.
Europe still seems weak, in spite of French president Emmanuelle Macron’s desire to include the entire continent in his plans for reform. The European Union will be deeply divided. Brexit will be sowing chaos as well as possibly heralding the fragmentation of the 28-member union. Europe will be still very far coming from speaking with 1 voice on economic as well as political questions.
Nonetheless, the idea will be time for Europe – as well as Germany – to emancipate itself coming from America, however without giving up on its great trans-Atlantic ally. Germany will always be grateful to the United States for doing rehabilitation possible after its moral as well as physical ruin from the Second World War.
however in which will be a different moment. As Mr. Gabriel put the idea, “Donald Trump represents anti-modernity. Instead of cosmopolitanism, there will be isolation coming from the planet. Instead of common responsibility, today we have ‘America first’.” No one wants to see an isolated America. the idea’s time to show Mr. Trump the limits of his approach, as well as the limits of his power.
—By Mathias Brüggmann, Moritz Koch, Jens Münchrath as well as Torsten Riecke