German Business Wants To Make Peace With U.S. | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 24.02.2003
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German Business Wants To Make Peace With U.S.

Though political differences remain, German business leaders and U.S. politicians meeting in Bonn say the economic relationship between the two countries will remain strong.


Any talk of U.S. sanctions on German products is off

With U.S. and German political relations as frosty as they are, German business leaders met on Friday to make sure the two countries aren’t headed for another transatlantic freeze.

Following a meeting of U.S. members of Congress and German business executives in Bonn on Friday, the head of Germany’s largest industry association said the business community was disappointed with the German government’s position.

“Of course, the American side understands that other nations and people are allowed to have different opinions, but there is nevertheless a fair way of going about things,” said Michael Rogowski, head of the Federation of German Industries. “And in this sense we all had to agree that Germany didn’t behave in the way we had hoped and as our friends in the United States had expected.”

Germany’s anti-war stance prompted some eyebrow-raising comments from U.S. congressmen a few weeks ago. Shocked at the “utter ingratitude,” shown by Germany and France for all the U.S. has done for them since 1945, Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., said the two nations’ positions at the United Nations against an immediate invasion of Iraq were “beneath contempt.” Other lawmakers called for economic sanctions against Germany and France, and a boycott of French products.

No economic sanctions on Germany

On Friday, Lantos defended his comments.

“While in the real world, one does not expect gratitude, one does expect the recognition of certain historical facts,” Lantos told DW-RADIO following the meeting.

But even without that sort of recognition, Lantos and others at the meeting said they didn’t expect any sort of economic retaliation on the part of the United States. In 2001, the two nations did more than €113 billion ($121 billion) in trade. The U.S. ranks only behind France in Germany’s most important trading partners.

“It is highly unlikely that the U.S. government initiate any policy, any measure that would restrict or inhabit trade or imports from Germany,” said Don Bonker, who helped organize the German-American conference. “This talk of economic punishment of Germany, our friends, is unacceptable.”

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