Foreign Trade Policy: BDI’s Recommendations

Globalization is a driving force of the 21st century. It is the task of policymakers to shape its framework conditions. Since Germany benefits from globalization more than almost any other country, one of the main tasks of the next federal government should be to pursue an active foreign economic and trade policy.

Confidence in free trade and open markets is no longer self-evident even in the leading industrial nations. Thus it is very important, especially for Germany, to take part in shaping globalization and to strengthen the competitiveness of domestic companies. Policymakers and the business community should enter into an open dialogue with the population about the opportunities offered by globalization. They should make the case that open markets and opposing protectionism are in Germany’s best interests.  

Promote free trade, ensure high standards, and prevent unfair trade practices

Policymakers and the business community must create the preconditions whereby everyone benefits from globalization. This includes cushioning the negative impact of competition and internationalization and continuously developing skills and qualifications.

Moreover, we recommend policymakers in Berlin and Brussels to take specific measures to strengthen the World Trade Organization (WTO) by modernizing regulations and procedures and by negotiating the rules for digital trade within the framework of the WTO. In addition, Germany should advocate for the conclusion of EU free trade agreements that set high standards. This includes agreements with Japan, the Mercosur regional bloc, and India as well as economic partnership agreements with African states. The agreement with Canada, CETA, should be ratified in the near term and in its entirety. Another core goal is that foreign investments continue to be effectively protected through modern investment protection and promotion agreements. As a long-term goal, investor-state disputes should be resolved by means of a multilateral mechanism. Furthermore, we recommend policymakers to ensure that the promotion of foreign trade is fit for the future. The instruments of foreign trade promotion must be better coordinated and the institutions of foreign trade promotion must work better together. Also, policymakers must ensure that trade protection instruments such as anti-dumping procedures guarantee free trade without being misused for protectionist ends.

It is important to note that the European Commission acts collectively on most issues related to trade and foreign trade policy. Germany cannot shape globalization on its own. If we want globalization to be further developed on the basis of our standards and values, then we must further strengthen the EU and stand up for a joint European approach.