Interview with Simone Menne: President's Visit to Washington, D.C.

From September 25th to September 28th, AmCham Germany’s President Simone Menne travelled to Washington, D.C. to discuss the economic policy issues with a series of representatives from the transatlantic community within the context of the ‘‘Zeitenwende’’ and weeks prior to the U.S. midterm elections. The visit was of special importance, being Simone Menne’s first visit to the U.S. in her role as President of AmCham Germany, as well as the first series of meetings in Washington, D.C. after a hiatus due to pandemic.
From left to right: Garrett Workman, Daniel Andrich, Simone Menne, Marjorie Chorlins, Christina Raab, Philipp Mittag, Ivana Zuzul, Marisa Lago

Can you give us an overview of the representatives you talked to and what were your impressions of the round of talks you had?

I was able to conduct several meetings during my visit in Washington D.C with representatives from politics, business and think tanks. It was the perfect start to the visit with meeting German Ambassador to the U.S. Dr. Emily Haber and touch upon the discussion we started during last year’s Transatlantic Business Conference – and look forward to welcoming her once more at our Transatlantic Business Conference in Frankfurt in less than a month.

Other highlights include meetings with representatives from the State Department, USTR, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and businesses. I was thrilled to meet with Marisa Lago, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade. We talked about the importance of the Trade & Technology Council (TTC) and about the EmpowerHer initiative to promote women’s advance in transatlantic trade. I am excited to continue the dialogue with her as a key representative from the U.S. Department of Commerce. I am happy to announce that Undersecretary Lago will be joining us as keynote speaker for the Transatlantic Business Conference on November 17.

Diversity is a topic that we at AmCham Germany want to make more prominent, for example through our Female Founders Award. In this context, I also had the chance to meet with the leadership of the Association for Women in International Trade (WIIT). The meeting provided room for essential discussions on diverse trade and energy issues, but we also delved into the importance of the role of women in transatlantic business and fostering the environment of support. I would like to extend my thank you to Dow for hosting us for this occasion.

Overall, through the couple of days in Washington, D.C., I am reassured that alignment and exchange is essential to tackle the many challenges ahead. Talking to representatives from the government, business and thinks tanks gave a first-hand insight to the critical issues that are shaping transatlantic business – this encompasses a wide area of subjects: trade, energy, security, digitalization, and diversity. Despite the challenges we are facing, I am convinced that our histories and values are an incredible strength. I am glad to have perceived that our U.S. partners see this similarly and regard dialogue critical for this turbulent period we are facing worldwide.

How is the transatlantic partnership currently viewed in Washington? From your perspective, could you share the main expectations echoed during the meetings?

One of the main priorities during the meetings was to bring forward issues that are critical for our members, especially in a post-pandemic setting and within the context of the last couple of months – which certainly have not been easy for countless members within AmCham Germany. Let me give a short overview that goes to show the strength and necessity of the transatlantic partnership which certainly was echoed during my round of talks in Washington, D.C.:

From the U.S. side, there is a high-level of interest in Germany as a business location among both U.S. companies but also from the administration side - despite the current energy policy situation. This period is a critical one. Nevertheless, I see it as a strong signal sent by our U.S. partners that they see the moment as one of a great opportunity: Attractiveness of Germany as a business location is underpinned by vast investments by U.S. companies in Germany with a focus on the energy sector and tech sector.

Further, the transatlantic commitment of companies shows that partners stick together in difficult times. Recent developments underscore this: Germany has moved up from third to second place in the ranking of countries with the highest foreign direct investment in 2021. German export volumes with its most important trading partner, the U.S., are on course for setting a record. German exports already passed the USD 100 billion mark in August, prior than any other country. Overall, German exports to the U.S. rose 27.2 percent year-on-year to 100.2 billion euros in the first eight months, according to preliminary data from the Federal Statistical Office. To conclude, I would say that the main expectations rely on engaging with one another and facilitating dialogue and business between our countries to create welfare within our societies.

What conclusions do you draw from the talks and experiences in Washington for AmCham Germany's work in the coming months?

I am always amazed by the potential of the transatlantic partnership. Nevertheless, it is critical to not regard it as self-given. We must keep on fostering it. In this context, it is vital for organizations like AmCham Germany to provide the framework for our members and we aim to represent their concerns accordingly. It is part of this Chamber’s strategy to engage with our U.S. partners and reach out to them to gain insights and their perspectives on a range of current affairs and foster the dialogue with our diverse membership. In turn, we want to pass forward the concerns of our membership.

I can say that the visit garnered positive attention and resonance. The timeframe of the visit also coincided with a decisive time frame for both our countries from a micro to macro level: From upcoming midterms, Zeitenwende, energy security, economic stability to larger geo-economic and security challenges and changes in the international system. I was thrilled to see so many individuals reacting positively to our content on our social media channels during the visit. We were able to get on average 3500 impressions per update and almost 300 reactions – which only serves to confirm the importance of such visits, especially in such a defining period we find ourselves in.

There is no doubt that there is much work ahead of us. However, the positive signals from Washington, D.C. give me a reason to be optimistic that, together, we will overcome this difficult period and come out stronger. I hope to foster the connections from this visit - it is as always, a continuous dialogue. I look forward to using these impulses as starting points for our signature events – such as the upcoming 16th Transatlantic Business Conference in Frankfurt next month, but also for the 120th anniversary of AmCham Germany next year – and the many meetings with the several political stakeholders in between. 

On this note, I want to express my gratitude to all our partners with whom we had the chance to meet with and look forward to bringing our transatlantic business ties further together.

For more detailed information please contact:

Heather Liermann

Head of Department

Membership Engagement & Development