On June 25, 2021, the 117th Annual Membership Meeting took place in a virtual format, at which members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany (AmCham Germany) gathered to elect new officers for their Executive Committee and Board of Directors. As per tradition, to conclude the membership meeting, members and guests of the public took part at a business conference with the theme of ‘'Revitalizing Transatlantic Cooperation.’’ The business conference was moderated by Andreas Cichowicz, Editor-in-Chief of Norddeutscher Rundfunk.
As for the elections, Simone Menne, former CFO of Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma & Co. KG, became the first female president of the Chamber, succeeding Frank Sportolari after three years. Gordon Riske, CEO at KION Group AG, was elected as the new Executive Vice President, succeeding Simone Menne. Other newly elected candidates include: Annette Green as AmCham Germany Vice President; and for the board of directors: Jackie Hunt, Dr. Marianne Janik, Eckart von Klaeden, and Ulrike Wieduwilt.
The business conference started with a keynote by Armin Laschet, Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia, Head of Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and CDU/CSU Candidate for Chancellor of Germany. He described the great current challenges such as the consequences of the pandemic and climate change, but he also emphasized the opportunities that lie ahead of the transatlantic relations and the outmost necessity there is to move forward in a joint effort. Minister-President Laschet underscored the importance of market-based means to foster innovation to set the transatlantic partners on a future-oriented path.
The first panel, "Strengthening Transatlantic Economic Relations in 2021 and Beyond: Perspectives from the Political and Business Community" included speakers Reinhard Bütikofer, Member of the European Parliament, Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, and Member of the Delegation for Relations with the United States, Gabriele Hässig, Managing Director, Procter & Gamble Germany GmbH & Co. Operations oHG, Dirk Lange, Managing Director Central European Region, 3M Deutschland GmbH, and Dr. Nils Schmid, Member of the German Bundestag and Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs for the SPD Parliamentary Group addressed expectations of the transatlantic community. The political speakers provided insights about a positive turn regarding transatlantic dialogue but underscored the necessity of coordination with US and EU institutions when it comes to topics such as regulations. Further, the panelists generally concluded the necessity of a united European strategy to push against unfair competition and unfair level playing field in conjunction with other large players.
The second panel, "Germany as a Location for the Transatlantic Business Community: Discussing the State of Competitiveness Ahead of the German Bundestag Elections", was planned as part of AmCham Germany’s Transatlantic Talks 2021 series. The panel combined insights from the industry, represented by Annette Green, Vice President DACH, SAS Institute GmbH, Gordon Riske, CEO, KION Group AG, and from politics with panelists Thomas Erndl, Member of the German Parliament, CDU/CSU, and Michael Theurer, Member of the German Parliament, Vice-Chair of the FDP Group. The panelists considered many aspects and challenges facing Germany, such as high corporate taxes and energy costs, depicting a concerning disconnect between innovation of industry and government. The panel provided an open dialogue as to the expectations of the business community and possible strategies offered by the party representatives for the new German government this fall. Other larger themes such as digitalization and possible (transatlantic) frameworks for A.I were addressed.
The conference was concluded with a message by Annalena Baerbock , Chairwoman of BÜNDNIS 90 / DIE GRÜNEN and Candidate for Chancellor of Germany, who echoed the larger theme of the event: There are great challenges ahead that go beyond transatlantic borders, but 2021, with the change in the German federal government, provides a unique opportunity to revitalize the transatlantic relations and face them in a transatlantic joint effort.
Thank you to our cooperation partner, Accenture, our platinum and exclusive panel sponsors BMW Group and itemis AG, our gold sponsors, KION Group, Texas Instruments and other event partners, Coca Cola Deutschland, Delta Airlines, Kärcher, Lilly, Microsoft, NRW. Global Business, Pfizer, and organizers for making this virtual Annual Membership Meeting a successful event.