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German companies abroad – the Federal Foreign Office offers support around the world

Over 1000 representatives from the business community accepted the invitation to the Business Forum of the Ambassadors Conference

Over 1000 representatives from the business community accepted the invitation to the Business Forum of the Ambassadors Conference, © Thomas Koehler/photothek.net

27.08.2019 - Article

We are currently experiencing a resurgence of protectionism worldwide. Trade disputes between countries are on the increase. The dialogue between diplomacy and business is therefore more important than ever – especially for a country such as Germany with its strong export sector.

In recent years, we have observed a trend towards increasing isolationism and nationalism in the business sector around the world. Governments want to protect their producers by introducing tariffs and trade barriers. However, in most cases this leads to counter-reactions and ultimately to a spiral of tariffs and counter-tariffs. What Foreign Minister Maas has emphasised time and again should be clear to everyone:

Short-term successes cannot hide the fact that there are no winners in a trade war!

Free trade with fair rules is indispensable for a country such as Germany with its strong export sector. This is why Germany is committed to countering protectionism and promoting free world trade. At the same time, the Federal Government is supporting German companies abroad. Promoting foreign trade and investment is one of the Foreign Service’s main tasks.

Foreign trade and investment promotion by the Federal Foreign Office

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speaking at the Business Forum of the Ambassadors Conference
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speaking at the Business Forum of the Ambassadors Conference© Thomas Koehler/photothek.net

The most important task of the missions abroad is to represent German interests in the host country. Together with the German Chambers of Commerce Abroad and Germany Trade and Invest, the German missions abroad therefore support the interests of the German business community. The Embassies and consulates general advise German companies, help them to establish contacts, for example with government agencies, and generally advocate improved market access conditions.

In particular, the Federal Government is committed to promoting sustainability and human rights. With the National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights, the Federal Government has declared its objective to improve human rights protection along the global supply and value chains.

Promoting German economic interests is a priority of the missions abroad. All missions abroad have staff members who are responsible for economic affairs. Many embassies have staff seconded from other federal ministries who can bring their knowledge to bear in fields such as the economy, agriculture, science, development cooperation, finance, and social affairs.

There is a close dialogue between German companies and the Federal Foreign Office to this end. Companies can direct their questions to the headquarters of the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin as well as directly to one of our numerous missions abroad worldwide. The Business Forum at the Ambassadors Conference is held annually at the Federal Foreign Office with a view to intensifying this exchange.

Shaping multilateralism: business as a partner in Europe and around the world

Once again, over 1000 business representatives have accepted an invitation this year to attend the Business Forum of the Ambassadors Conference at the Federal Foreign Office on 27 August. Major companies, SMEs, start-ups and associations will hold discussions with the 227 heads of Germany’s missions abroad at the Forum.

Foreign Minister Maas had the following to say about this:

We need companies, associations and all levels of our society in order to defend our values together.

This sentiment is also reflected by this year’s motto “Shaping multilateralism – business as a partner in Europe and the world”. Pressing political challenges will be addressed in country panels and forums with this motto in mind: how should we deal with trade conflicts? How can we safeguard German and European sovereignty in industrial policy? What about Germany and the digital transformation? How can we guarantee climate protection, sustainability and human rights?

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