Overview of the Foreign Economic Policy Positions of the Party Platforms

In the run-up to the Bundestag election, all political parties that will be represented in the 19th Bundestag according to the latest opinion polls are busy discussing the issues of foreign trade and globalization. But the priorities that have been set and the weight given to these issues in the various party platforms differ considerably.

CDU/CSU: Globalization and free trade are drivers of prosperity

In July 2017, the CDU and CSU submitted their party platform for the Bundestag elections. Both parties are clearly committed to promoting globalization and its positive impacts. As an export nation, they state that Germany, in particular, stands to benefit from open markets. The platform contains a clear commitment to bilateral and multilateral agreements and institutions such as G7 or G20. The free trade agreement between the EU and Canada, CETA, should be filled with life. A free trade agreement between the EU and the United States should continue to be pursued and Germany should protect itself against unfair trade practices.

Social Democrats: Trade policy is an instrument for shaping globalization

The SPD calls for supporting small and medium-sized enterprises on their way to entering global markets. However, the party rejects agricultural production aimed solely at exports to the global market. The SPD is also committed to the transatlantic partnership and wants Germany to play a more active role in development cooperation. According to the party, trade policy is not just about promoting the economy. Rather, it is an instrument for shaping globalization. The SPD is in favor of open markets but argues that trade must be conducted in markets without the distortions of competition. The party also argues that the blockade of the World Trade Organization (WTO) must be overcome. Trade and investment agreements must incorporate standards in the areas of human rights, the environment, consumer protection, and social issues. Future EU trade agreements should stipulate that investment disputes be resolved not by private arbitration tribunals but rather by an investment court. 

The Left party will oppose free trade agreements

According to its April 2017 platform for the election to the Bundestag, the Left party (Die Linke) will oppose investment protection and free trade agreements like TTIP, CETA, and TiSA. As the foundation for a new trade policy, the party’s ambition is for the European Union to make a fresh start beyond the Lisbon and Maastricht treaties. The Left party is in favor of a ban on arms exports. Development cooperation should be refocused to reflect the interests of those affected in developing countries.

The Greens want to strengthen the WTO and reject trade agreements in their current form  

In its draft platform for the election to the Bundestag, Alliance 90/The Green Party rejects agreements such as TTIP, CETA, and TiSA in their current form. The precautionary principle is to be embedded in all trade agreements. Multilateral negotiations under the WTO are to be strengthened. Investor-state dispute settlement proceedings are rejected, but the party is in favor of an investment court under the umbrella of the United Nations. In order to protect human rights, companies that are active internationally should be legally obliged to reveal the full details of their supply chains.

Free Democrats want to seize the opportunities offered by free trade

According to its April 2017 platform for the election to the Bundestag, the FDP wants to seize the opportunities that are offered by free trade. At the same time, it rejects the growing trend towards protectionism. The party views the WTO as the epicenter of trade policy. It argues that free trade agreements can contribute to a legal framework through which sustainability standards, among other things, can be ensured. The FDP is committed to a value-oriented development policy that, above all, takes into account Africa, the continent of opportunity. The Free Democrats are opposed to arms deliveries to crisis regions. Germany as an exporting country is to be supported by efficient ports and airports. The Free Democrats also want to enter into more natural resource partnerships and dismantle trade barriers.