Ms. Menne, could you tell us about your ambitions and goals as President of AmCham Germany? Which areas would you describe as your main focus on during your first months with your new tenure as President?
The goals stay the same as they always have been: Show the importance of the transatlantic relationship in general and, of course, the business relationship. In times of major changes especially in technology, climate change, and the pandemic, this is even more important as the transatlantic partnership becomes more essential but also more vulnerable. Currently, we see a window of opportunity caused by the new administration in the US and the upcoming elections in Germany.
Are we as an organization well enough prepared to serve these goals?
First and foremost, an organization as large and representative as ours must be resilient and withstand changes. We have collectively experienced a difficult year through the pandemic. And we came out of it even more efficient and continued to professionalize our activities and operations. We must continue to think about strategies on how to use our resources and adapt accordingly without losing the grasp of our main goals: serving the interest of our transatlantic business community and representing our members. I think the pandemic has shown how resilient our societies are. It made clear that we have to find solutions collectively to improve our day to day conditions. The cooperation between a German and US-American company in creating a Covid-19 vaccine serves as a brilliant example on transatlantic partnership to tackle immense challenges. I am very proud to also see the strength of our organization and see all the range of innovative engagement we had this year to discuss different topics regarding the transatlantic business community.
But we also have to ask the question: How can AmCham Germany tackle its current challenges regarding its membership? I would like to create a diverse membership. Therefore, we should also look for members from the start up scene and SMEs. This can result in many benefits for our members: innovative ideas as well as new opportunities for partnership. Thus, one of my main goals during the first months of my tenure as President, is to meet and engage directly with our members and conceptualize in a joint effort how AmCham Germany can strengthen its networking and partnership to build on its future-oriented goals. I look forward to working together with our member companies to ensure the voice of transatlantic business is being heard.
What makes AmCham Germany a unique transatlantic organization?
AmCham Germany is important as we represent a wide range of industries. And from all of them we get contributions by its volunteers. We are member-led and member-driven. We also represent all regions in Germany which provides our members a wide network and also a regional platform to represent their interests and interact. I think AmCham Germany succeeds in offering its large membership opportunities to network and dialogue, either between members, with voices of business, and also with political stakeholders and decision-makers. With the new series, Transatlantic Talks 2021, we observe how AmCham Germany is greatly intertwining the regional work of its chapters with the policy work of the six committees. This two-fold connection provides an important exchange platform for everyone at AmCham Germany. On this note, I want to thank all our Chapter and Policy Chairs for their dedication and commitment to the transatlantic business partnership. Our members give so much of their resources and input and help making AmCham Germany a unique network.
From your perspective, what are strategies that Germany can take to strengthen the transatlantic economic relations?
Germany must deliver a clear reassurance of the transatlantic partnership towards the US. The US is its largest partner outside of Europe, this should be emphazised. I think the year 2021 delivers a unique window of opportunity to build the groundwork in revitalizing the transatlantic (economic) relations. So far, the new US administration under President Biden has provided positive signals. Further, the next German government after the federal elections must actively engage with the US and identify common goals and strategies to tackle the challenges ahead.
From a business perspective, there are several possibilities how Germany can improve its standing as a transatlantic partner. This includes becoming an even more attractive business location and attract investment. While we have a good trained workforce and legal environment, the costs of energy and taxes are too high. Bureaucratic regulations are a great constraint for businesses. Further, it is essential for Germany to improve its digital infrastructure which is a prerequiste for innovative and competitive industries. This can be achieved through strong cooperation between the government, the educational institutions and industry. When it comes to transatlantic trade specifically, Germany ought to send a clear signal to dismantle trade barriers and ensure framework conditions for cross-border free trade. Close cooperation between the US and the EU in this regard will be essential to deal with the economic consequences of the pandemic. We also recommend that Germany, in a joint effort with the US, takes an active role in reforming the World Trade Organization.
To summarize, after the last couple of years and the wave of challenges the world is currently facing, it is essential for Germany to actively engage with the US and send a strong signal, especially now that our transatlantic partner is listening.