Current Trade Matters - Germany's Strategy on China

This piece focuses on the key aspects of Germany's strategy on China, outlined by the German Federal Foreign Office. It highlights the need for a comprehensive approach to engage with China, emphasizing the importance of maintaining dialogue while addressing concerns related to human rights, rule of law, and market access.
Photo Copyright: Pexels - Magda Ehlers

The strategy aims to promote reciprocity, fairness, and sustainability in bilateral relations with China, with a particular emphasis on economic cooperation, climate action, and technological innovation. It also emphasizes the importance of strengthening alliances and partnerships within the European Union and with like-minded countries to address common challenges posed by China's rise. Additionally, the strategy recognizes the significance of promoting human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, both domestically and internationally. Overall, the strategy underscores the need for a balanced and pragmatic approach that balances cooperation and competition in a manner that safeguards Germany's national interests and values.

Related to trade, the strategy emphasizes several aspects:

Reciprocity and level-playing field: The strategy highlights the importance of promoting fair trade practices and ensuring reciprocal market access between Germany and China. It aims to address existing imbalances and create a level playing field for businesses from both countries.

Economic cooperation: The strategy emphasizes the importance of strengthening economic cooperation between Germany and China. It seeks to enhance bilateral trade relations, promote investment opportunities, and foster mutually beneficial partnerships in key sectors, such as technology, innovation, and sustainable development. Key aspects are improving market access for German businesses in China is advocated for, as well as addressing restrictions, to foster a more open and transparent business environment. In this vein, the strategy underscores the significance of upholding and promoting rules-based trade systems, including supporting multilateral organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Sustainability and environmental standards: The need for promoting sustainable economic practices and environmental standards in trade relations with China is highlighted, emphasizing the urgent concern of climate change, supporting the transition to clean energy, and promoting sustainable development in trade and investment activities.

Overall, the strategy seeks to ensure a balanced and mutually beneficial trade relationship between Germany and China, promoting fair competition, market access, sustainability, and adherence to rules-based trade principles.

Simultaneously, the strategy emphasizes the need for a joint approach to addressing China’s rise with like-minded partners, particularly the United States, to enhance dialogue, coordination, and collaboration on key regional and global issues of mutual interest. The significance of shared values and principles that underpin the transatlantic partnership is underscored by prioritizing the promotion of democratic principles, human rights, and the rule of law.

Other areas include:

Security and defense: The strategy highlights the importance of transatlantic security and defense mechanisms. It emphasizes the need for closer coordination and collaboration in addressing common security challenges, including (cyber-)terrorism, and regional conflicts, underlining NATO as a crucial platform for transatlantic security.

Economic relations: The strategy recognizes the vital role of transatlantic trade and economic relations. It seeks to strengthen economic ties, promote fair and open trade, and address trade-related challenges through dialogue and cooperation – especially considering the fields of innovation, technology, and research. It aims to foster collaboration, exchange knowledge, and promote joint efforts in areas such as digitalization and artificial intelligence.

Climate Change and global challenges: The strategy acknowledges the importance of transatlantic partnership in addressing global challenges, particularly climate change. It advocates for joint action, sharing best practices, and coordinating efforts to achieve common objectives, including the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

AmCham Germany’s take:

In today's rapidly evolving geopolitical landscape, it is imperative for transatlantic trading partners to coordinate their trade and policy objectives to navigate the complex challenges ahead and deal with players such as a rising China. AmCham Germany recognizes the significance of a joint approach in addressing geopolitical shifts and emphasizes the need for a strong transatlantic alliance based on shared values and principles.

Transatlantic sovereignty has emerged as a central theme for AmCham Germany, reflecting our commitment to forging a robust alliance with the United States and pursuing shared objectives across various domains. Central to transatlantic sovereignty is the notion of close cooperation, deeper integration, and collaboration in standard setting. By working together, we can strengthen our collective resilience and competitiveness in the global arena. The focus lies on achieving regulatory convergence, facilitating data flows while ensuring privacy protection, enhancing cybersecurity measures, and establishing effective governance mechanisms.

By fostering transatlantic sovereignty, combining our expertise and resources, we can navigate the challenges ahead and develop frameworks to promote innovation, prosperity, and secure a brighter future for both sides of the Atlantic.

Heather Liermann

Head of Department

Membership Engagement & Development