Germany’s economy is doing well. However, this positive state of affairs should not detract attention from the fact that the global economy is currently having to navigate choppy waters. There are many risks, ranging from new protectionist tendencies worldwide – not just in the United States – through China’s state-controlled economic policy to an increasingly critical stance in many countries towards the market economy, globalization, and international competition. But for Germany, in particular, open markets and free trade have proven to be recipes for success. In the last 40 years, world trade was the driver of growth and prosperity. Exports worldwide have increased tenfold since 1980 owing to freer trade. However, in the past three years global trade has slowed markedly and its growth has been weaker than that of the world economy. What is worrying is that approximately 2,400 protectionist measures have been introduced since 2008 according to the World Trade Organization (WTO), while only around 25 percent have been lifted to date.
Coalition of the willing for free trade should shape globalization
Trade barriers and closed borders produce only losers in the end. To ensure prosperity in the future, it is necessary to build a coalition of the willing for free trade. Among countries like New Zealand, Australia, the ASEAN states as well as states on the African and South American continents, there continue to be many promising actors. We should form new partnerships with them, so that we can play a role in shaping globalization in the future as well. Germany’s close integration into international value chains demands that it pursues an active foreign economic policy. The main task here is to improve the promotion of foreign trade and the economy in order to make it friendlier to small businesses as well as technology-neutral.
Promote major strategic projects
It is also important for the competitiveness of products and services “Made in Germany” to give new impetus to the promotion of major strategic projects. More and more often, government-sponsored enterprises from Asia and other regions are beating German companies in the competition for major projects on the markets of the future. This trend must be counteracted and the conditions for competition must be improved.
Germany has no reason whatsoever to lean back and be complacent. Rather, in the coming legislative session, the numerous challenges related to economic policy and, in particular, foreign economic policy must be tackled in a proactive manner and Germany must play its role in the world. The CDU and CSU will continue to promote open markets and free world trade in the future without any ifs and buts.
Dr Joachim Pfeiffer, MP, is Spokesman on Economic and Energy Policy for the CDU/CSU parliamentary group and represents the district of Waiblingen in the Bundestag. Previously, he was Coordinator for Energy Policy as well as Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Bundesnetzagentur (Federal Network Agency).