United States of America
Last updated in November 2013
Germany and the United States of America are bound together by historical ties of friendship. The two countries share common experiences, values and interests, though controversial issues repeatedly arise in bilateral relations. In the recent U.S. census, conducted in 2010, 15.2 per cent of those surveyed stated that they had German roots. Germany owes a great deal to the United States: in the aftermath of the Second World War it provided political support and economic assistance to West Germany under the Marshall Plan.
Without the United States as guarantor of freedom in the decades of the Cold War and without U.S. support for German reunification, Germany would not have been able to achieve national reunification in freedom. In the future, too, Germany’s transatlantic partnership – along with the European Union – will continue to be of overriding importance for our security, freedom and economic success.
Both Germany and the United States are free, open and democratic societies. In the United Nations, they jointly pursue the goals of freedom, democracy and individual human rights as well as free trade, prosperity and sustainable development.
An important pillar of bilateral relations is the transatlantic security community NATO. For Germany, the transatlantic alliance remains of paramount importance. Practically no other country has benefited from this partnership and this friendship to the same extent as Germany. Cooperation between Germany and the U.S. on security policy remains intensive and comprehensive but priorities in this area have repeatedly been subject to change. Today, one of the focuses is combating international terrorism. Together with other allies, Germany is assisting in conflict management worldwide, for instance in Afghanistan, the Balkans and the Middle East, through both military engagement and civilian assistance, such as support in building up police forces and the provision of development aid.
Other issues currently shaping bilateral relations are a further intensification of economic cooperation and the ongoing debate on striking a proper balance between security and freedom. The aim of current talks between the two countries is to reach an agreement that puts cooperation between our security services on a footing that is in line with the demands of the present day. Furthermore, foreign policy cooperation with the U.S. on international crisis management, e.g. in Syria, with Iran and in the Middle East, is closer and better than ever.
On the economic front, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership currently under negotiation between the EU and the U.S. opens up substantial economic growth potential. This could lead to the creation of several hundred thousand new jobs in Germany alone. The close contacts between government agencies on both sides are also underlined by the regular visits to the U.S. by Federal Chancellor Merkel and members of her Cabinet and the return visits by the American side. President Obama visited Germany most recently on 19 June 2013, giving a public speech at the Brandenburg Gate and proposing a disarmament initiative. After Obama began his second term in office, Germany was the first country to be visited by U.S. Vice President Biden (on 1 February 2013). Secretary of State Kerry also visited Berlin at the beginning of his term of office, on 26 February 2013, describing Germany as "without doubt one of our strongest and most effective allies in the world". Another important element of bilateral relations is the intensive exchange of views between German and American parliamentarians, and the idea is to similarly intensify exchange between the parliamentary control bodies that oversee the work of the two countries’ intelligence services.
Finally, for reasons associated with German history, Germany’s relationship with the approximately six million Jewish Americans, many of whom have German roots, is of special significance. The Federal Government and the German Bundestag maintain intensive contacts and attach great importance to dialogue with American Jewish organisations in order to actively address the crimes committed by the Nazi regime, atone and provide compensation for these wherever possible and foster mutual understanding.
Economic relations between Germany and the United States are largely untroubled. The Transatlantic Economic Partnership between the U.S. and the EU, which was launched in 2007 on Germany’s initiative, and the subsequently created Transatlantic Economic Council open up additional opportunities. The U.S. is Germany’s principal trading partner outside the EU and Germany is the U.S.’s most important trading partner in Europe. In terms of the total volume of U.S. bilateral trade (imports and exports), Germany remains in fifth place, behind Canada, China, Mexico and Japan. The U.S. ranks fourth among Germany’s trading partners, after the Netherlands, China and France. At the end of 2012, bilateral trade was worth USD 157.2 billion.
|US exports to Germany (USD billion)||54.5||43.3||48.2||49.1||48.7|
|US imports from Germany (USD billion)||97.4||71.4||82.7||98.4||108.5|
(Figures from the US Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis)
Germany and the U.S. are important to each other as investment destinations. At the end of 2011, bilateral investment was worth USD 321 billion, German direct investment in the U.S. amounting to USD 215 billion and U.S. direct investment in Germany USD 106 billion.
At the end of 2011, U.S. direct investment in Germany stood at approximately USD 106 billion, an increase of nearly 1 per cent compared with the previous year (approximately USD 105 billion). Also at the end of 2011, German direct investment in the U.S. amounted to some USD 215 billion, above the previous year’s level (approximately USD 212 billion). Germany is the fourth largest foreign investor in the U.S., after the United Kingdom, Japan and the Netherlands, and ranks eleventh as a destination for U.S. direct foreign investment.
|German direct investment in US (USD billion)||201.4||218.1||212.9||215.9|
|US direct investment in Germany (USD billion)||108.2||116.8||105.8||106.8|
(Figures from the US Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis)
Cultural relations are wide-ranging. Every year hundreds of thousands of people travel across the Atlantic – as tourists, participants in the numerous exchange programmes or as artists and performers, scientists, academics and students and pupils.
Some 17 million American soldiers lived in Germany with their families in the years after the Second World War, coming to appreciate the country and bringing the American way of life to Germany. German takes third place after Spanish and French among the foreign languages taught at private secondary schools and at colleges and universities in the U.S.
More than 50 million Americans, or around 15 per cent of the population, are of German descent. However, German Americans do not constitute a cohesive interest group. There are numerous German-American associations devoted to cultivating German customs and traditions.
Military relations between Germany and the U.S. are built on a broad foundation, the historical roots of which go back well into the 18th century. Today, German and American troops stand shoulder to shoulder in missions across the globe, making a joint contribution to peace and stability in the world.
Germany, for example, is the third largest provider of troops in Afghanistan, after the U.S. and the United Kingdom. Together, they are helping the Afghan government to create stability and maintain domestic security. For the first time in history, two U.S. army brigades are under the command of a German general in ISAF’s Regional Command North in Afghanistan.
Germany is and remains the country hosting the largest peace-time contingent of American forces outside the U.S. The only two military regional commands of U.S. forces stationed outside the U.S. (out of a total of six) are in Stuttgart. The U.S.’s largest military hospital outside its own territory is in the German town of Landstuhl; it also serves as a first stop for U.S. troops wounded in action in Afghanistan. Joint manoeuvres, the intensive exchange of experience between the two sides and the further development of deployment procedures and weapon systems are the logical consequence of this long-standing cooperation.
Conversely, troops of the German Armed Forces receive training at American armed forces’ facilities in the U.S. and regularly participate in joint manoeuvres. This is particularly true of German Air Force pilots, but also applies to other selected military capabilities. In 2010 and 2013, for example, German air-defence frigates were integrated into U.S. aircraft carrier groups, and in 2013 a German submarine unit was relocated to the east coast of the U.S. for nearly five months as part of cooperation with the U.S. Navy.
There is also close cooperation between the two countries in the defence technology sector. This is ensured by a German Liaison Office for Defense Materiel in the U.S. and a number of liaison officers working in important sections of the U.S. armed forces. Since 1964, more than 1,600 members of the armaments section have been deployed for a year with the U.S. armed forces under various exchange programmes. Conversely, some 160 members of the U.S. armaments section have already assumed responsibilities at Federal Armed Forces facilities.