“We should offer to cooperate with the President-Elect”

Video interview with Daniel Andrich (in German) © BDI

Against free trade and in favour of protectionism? The statements made by designated US President Donald Trump during his election campaign have generated considerable unease within German industry. “We should offer to cooperate with the President-Elect on the basis of our excellently functioning transatlantic relationship,” says Daniel Andrich, President and CEO of the Representative of German Industry and Trade (RGIT) in Washington D.C. RGIT is the BDI and DIHK liaison office that works towards deepening German-US business and trade relations.

People in the US are less “shocked” about the outcome of the presidential election than they are in Germany, says Andrich, adding that it is essential to accept and respect the will of the American people. “We will now see what Donald Trump actually wants to do, and what he will actually be able to do.”

Finger on the pulse of a major economic nation

Business operations between the US and Germany must be upheld and intensified. “For the first time in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany, the US is the biggest export market for German industry”, says Andrich. In 2015, goods to the value of 125 billion US dollars were exported to the US market. In addition, about 4,700 German companies are located in the US and account for 670,000 jobs there. “The transatlantic relations are very close-knit and highly integrated and we want to take this even further.”

RGIT, the joint liaison office of the BDI and the DIHK, was set up in Washington D.C. 28 years ago to pursue this goal. Currently, its seven members of staff work to ensure that the concerns of German companies are heard in the US political arena and to foster contacts with US companies and organisations. “We have three main tasks: First, to represent German industry, second, to communicate the policy interests of German industry and third, to monitor and report on developments in the country that affect the interests of German industry to our headquarters in Berlin.”

Challenges posed by the new US administration

Alongside trade, financial, legal and energy policy issues, the team headed by Andrich is also increasingly focusing on digitalisation, especially the developments going on the other side of the country, in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area. In the next few months, however, the team will be mainly observing the new US administration and establishing contacts. “It is important now for the new administration to send a positive signal around the globe that markets are going to stay open,” says Andrich. “That is what we at RGIT in Washington will be working on now.”