Studio Guest: Friedolin Strack, Federation of German Industries (BDI) | Made in Germany | DW | 23.03.2011
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Studio Guest: Friedolin Strack, Federation of German Industries (BDI)

Friedolin Strack, Federation of German Industries (BDI), Coordinator, Asia-Pacific-Committee

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DW-TV: For more we're joined by Friedolin Strack of the Federation of German Industry - where he's the Coordinator of the Asia-Pacific Committee. Obviously, this is not the first disaster Japan has to deal with - but certainly one of the strongest, the worst on record. Will it cope?

Friedolin Strack: Yes, definitely. Japan will cope, but this triple hit that we've seen on Japan, it has a dimension we've never seen before. And Japan has extremely well been able to cope with the damages of the earthquake itself, the tsunami was much more terrible, and you cannot really prevent the damages of a tsunami and the nuclear crisis we are seeing at the moment, it's really open what will happen.

DW-TV: You are in contact with people in Japan, you have close contacts there. What are they saying? What's their biggest fear?

Friedolin Strack: Well, their biggest fear is that returning to normal life will take more time. That's their biggest fear, and they do nothing else but wish to return to normal life as soon as possible.

DW-TV: And what will it take to return to normal life? It’ll cost a lot of money, and where is it coming from?

Friedolin Strack: Well, Japan is one of the richest countries in the world. Private spending in Japan is enormous. We have no idea – it’s much bigger than the public deficit in Japan, and it’s a strong society and a strong country, so we will see more of a strong Japan in the future.

DW-TV: And I should think a lot of companies in the whole world are looking forward to that for various reasons. We saw in the graphic that Germany imports only about three percent Japanese products, so the impact in Germany maybe isn't so big. But some companies are affected. Do they have to fear bottlenecks or maybe even shutting down production for awhile?

Friedolin Strack: We don't fear shutting down of production. Bottlenecks, yes, but for very, very limited lines of production in a very limited area of German industry, probably focussed on the optical industry and on some electronics components, high tech components that we import from Japan.

DW-TV: So how badly affected are countries like the US then, or China? Is it really bad for them?

Friedolin Strack: Yes, I think it's much more severe for those economies, but everything will depend -- that is my expectation -- on how soon we will see any effect on the Japanese demand from these countries, because a lot of goods come from China, from the US, to Japan, and if we see some hesitation to buy foreign products, that might affect the world economy.

DW-TV: Talking of hesitating buying foreign products, we've seen the reactions here in Germany to the nuclear crisis, the fear that goes along with radiation, do you think consumers here will shy away from buying Japanese products? Is there a danger?

Friedolin Strack: Well, the difficulty is that we definitely have to make sure that components that we order from Japan do not contain any nuclear radiation, and that is a technical problem. The danger is very, very limited, but we have to make sure that the limited danger is extremely low.

DW-TV: So last question , very briefly: Do you continue buying Japanese products?

Friedolin Strack: I do.

DW-TV: You will. Friedolin Strack, thank you very much for joining us.

(Interview: Monika Jones)