Daily Management Review

The Good, the Bad and Trump: the US welcomes Merkel right after Macron


On Friday, April 27, Angela Merkel is arriving to Washington. She will be representing not only Germany, but the whole European Union, at the meeting with US President Donald Trump. Despite the fact that her relationship with Trump is far from relationship of the latter with French President Emmanuel Macron, Merkel will undoubtedly play a key role in matters of US-EU relations.

Gage Skidmore via flickr
Gage Skidmore via flickr
This will be the second visit of Merkel to Trump. A year ago, when the Chancellor's first talks with the new American president were over, the Western media called the German leader a "moral authority", "a defender of the Western world, its leader and the last hope." Besides, Merkel as a kind of an Elder among the heads of the countries of the European Union and so she has to remind Trump about common values.

By now, Germany has moved to more practical relations. Merkel is going to discuss with Trump both political and key economic issues concerning relations between Germany and the United States.

Germany is the champion in exports. Last year alone, goods worth € 111 billion were delivered from Germany to the USA, while the amount of deliveries from the USA to Germany was only € 61 billion. Germany supplies cars, machinery, chemical products and other goods to the United States.

It is known that one of the main issues is possible abolition of special conditions for European countries on steel and aluminum. The German government believes that duties on steel and aluminum will begin to operate on May 1.

Representatives of German business are calling on the Chancellor of Germany to strongly persuade Trump not to impose duties, but this is not an easy task. The US president is an economic nationalist, and he is not very concerned about the interests of European business.

The American leader, in order to protect his own producers, has repeatedly threatened the largest German automobile and other concerns with the possibility of introducing additional import duties in the United States.

In these circumstances, the Chancellor will attempt to pursue a double strategy in the negotiations in order not to give all the trump cards in this trade war to Trump.

First, Merkel will talk about further possible mutual concessions within the framework of transatlantic trade cooperation and on increasing pressure in this issue on China. The fact is that China's exports to the US are even higher than Germany's. In addition, the Chancellor of Germany will recall thousands of jobs in the US which are supported by German investments.

It will be even more difficult for Merkel to convince Trump to keep the "nuclear deal" with Iran, whose fate can be finally resolved in mid-May.

Here the German Chancellor shows full solidarity with French President Emmanuel Macron, who also supports preservation of the deal.

It is assumed that the parties will also discuss increasing military spending in Germany. They should grow from 0.122% to 2% of budget expenditures in 2024. Merkel herself and the German Defense Minister have repeatedly made it clear during the NATO meetings that they were aimed precisely at these indicators. At the same time, the new Coalition Treaty states that the growth rates of military expenditures should not exceed growth rates of spending on development policy and goals of foreign German cultural policy.

Although Germany, unlike France and Britain, did not participate in the attacks on Syria, Merkel and the head of the German Defense Ministry, Ursula Von der Leyen, supported this military campaign. Thus, the German side scored points from the United States and its leader, Donald Trump. It is worth mentioning that Von der Leyen has already several times expressed her opinion that the Bundeswehr (German armed forces) could also take part in this military action if they were asked to do so. 

Merkel's visit to the United States is taking place almost immediately after the visit of another European leader, French President Emmanuel Macron.

Macron's visit to the US was a state visit, then Merkel chose a business visit. Her relations with the US president can also be called business: unlike pro-European Barack Obama, Merkel does not have a special "chemistry" with Trump.

"Like most Europeans, the German Chancellor is struggling to hide his contempt for "America First " nationalism, which comes from the American president," notes Financial Times.

Merkel is unlikely to receive the same welcome reception as Macron. Moreover, she gave the French president "a leading role" in relations with the United States. However, it is the German Chancellor who remains the power behind the throne, and will represent the entire European Union at the meeting.

It may also be that the roles between the leaders of France and Germany are pre-allocated. If Macron plays the good role, then Merkel may act as a "tough negotiator."

source: ft.com, dw.de