Raised in East Germany, where her father was a minister, Mrs. Merkel earned a Ph.D. in physics, and worked as a scientist. After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989; however, she entered politics, and has been the German Chancellor for the past ten years. As Donald Trump will find, Angela Merkel is anything, but the quiet hausfrau. An article from popular German periodical “Spiegel” provides more detail for Friday’s meeting.
They will meet at the White House, in what is hoped to be the beginning of a friendly relationship-building process. So far, Germany and the European Union believe that the Trump Regime will be more pragmatic than previously expected, due to the ouster of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. They believe that the new NSA, H. R. McMaster, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, are more rational presidential advisors whom they can work with, in order to maintain a strong Atlantic Alliance.
Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary Mattis and Secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly, calmed fears, at the recent European Security Conference, in Munich, where they all reaffirmed America’s support for NATO. Although there was no discussion, on the part of the Americans, about the European Union, Chancellor Merkel hopes to update Trump on its purpose, its history, and the simplification it provides the U. S., in dealing with one entity, rather than all 27 E. U. member nations.
Germany has noticed some changes in Trump’s actions, post-Inauguration, which it believes are showing a more open-minded person. At least so far, the Iran Nuclear Agreement is still in place, and he hasn’t moved the U. S. Embassy in Israel, from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Mrs. Merkel also recalls that, on January 28, Donald Trump called her, so that she might explain the Russian Policy with regard to Ukraine, before he called Russian President Vladimir Putin. That was certainly a positive note.
Mrs. Merkel believes that Trump has more trust when dealing with business executives than with politicians; so, she is bringing the Chairmen of two of Germany’s blue chip corporations—Siemens and BMW—to join-in the Friday meeting. They will explain the number of jobs that Germany creates in the U. S., the fact that one-third of its foreign investment goes to America, and that German auto makers build more vehicles in this country than it exports to us.
Chancellor Merkel is also prepared to demonstrate her nasty side; but, only if she must. Germany’s trade relationship with America is an important one and, if Trump begins a trade war with China and Mexico, Germany is ready to go on the offensive. Among Germany’s defensive weapons are: counter-tariffs, in response to America’s. It could also allow German corporations to write-off American tariffs and taxes; and Germany could lower its own tax rates so that its companies will remain profitable.
There is another tool that German exporters, as well as American importers, are concerned about: Trump’s suggested “border adjustment tax”, which might not be in compliance with World Trade Organization rules. This tax would be deductible for American companies for goods that they export overseas; however, the cost of importing products, or foreign components for inclusion in domestically manufactured products, would not be deductible.
The entire E. U. is prepared to take the border adjustment tax to the WTO. Additionally, the European Commission has been reviewing Google for competition violations, and McDonald’s and Starbucks for tax evasion; however, that list may potentially be expanded.
Cecilia Maelstrom, the E. U. Trade Commissioner, has been visiting other countries and regions in order to maintain free and open trade, in case the U. S. isolates itself through protectionism. Other regions, such as Asia-Pacific and Latin America, in turn, are also considering taking similar actions. If Donald Trump does, in fact, lead America into a trade war, we might find ourselves isolated from an ever-interconnected Global Marketplace.
NOTE: Welcome to my readers from (the former Soviet) Georgia!