-- translation of advanced text --
Heads of the German missions abroad,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to be able to welcome you all tonight to this final event in the Business Forum at our Ambassadors Conference. With hosts as fabulous as Deutsche Telekom, it’s no surprise that we’re all glad to be here.
I would also like to welcome the Ambassadors who are accredited in Germany. More than a thousand representatives of German businesses and business associations have come, like you, to events at our Business Forum. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all, guests, Ambassadors and Consuls-General. The esteem in which German business is held by our international partners is an important factor for Germany’s reputation in the world.
My very special thanks goes to those who have made this evening possible. I would like to thank Deutsche Telekom and in particular Messrs Kopf and Ropers for allowing us to meet in their historical and yet so wonderfully modern Representative Office. A hundred years ago, this building housed the Imperial Telegraph Office, which even then was used by the Embassies in Berlin to keep in touch with their sending states. It was not until after German Reunification that it was restored to its original architectural glory. You’ll be able to admire it more closely at the end of the evening.
Lastly, I would also like to thank the Allianz and Mr Ischinger personally for sponsoring us. I think it’s a really good sign that we have found such great sponsors for this evening. It shows that the work of our embassies is worth something to business – and that’s the best proof we could have of the success of our external economic promotion.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
In a globalized world, our prosperity cannot be uncoupled from our economic strength. The success of German businesses abroad is measured not just by the individual financial transactions, but ultimately influences our society as a whole. Exports and foreign investment create prosperity and jobs in Germany. But they do even more than that – Germany’s position on the world stage depends to a very large degree on the success of its business! Many partner countries are interested in Germany primarily in its capacity as a trading partner and investor. The economic success of German companies means that German foreign policy has a better chance of and better opportunities for promoting German values and interests abroad.
The promotion of German foreign trade and international investment is an extraordinarily important subject. More and more German Ministries, Members of the German Bundestag, Germany’s regional governments and parliaments, local councils, business associations and innumerable other institutions are turning their attention to our external economic affairs.
Networks are a key prerequisite for business success.Networks, such as that of the German Foreign Service, one which it actively uses and which is paralleled by few elsewhere: our global network of 232 German missions abroad. This network makes us fully justified in calling ourselves a global player in German external economic affairs!
Our special strength lies in our ability to produce political and economic-policy analyses of conditions, developments and prospects in our partner countries.
Whether you represent an expanding family-run engineering firm from Saxony-Anhalt or a growing electricity consortium from North Rhine-Westphalia – in the globalized world you will have your sights on new markets. You will want the best possible information on market conditions and business prospects in these potential markets. We’re the people who can provide that information!
And, especially in host countries with strong public sectors, we’re in a position to give German companies advice quickly and efficiently, and to open doors for them – doors that lead to important public decision-makers. We can equally provide access to interlocutors in the private sector thanks to our networks of personal contacts.
In addition, we also work closely with other partners, such as the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. I am convinced that successful business deals involving German enterprises can also make an important contribution to development in our partner countries. If we take infrastructure and urban development projects as an example, we can clearly say that besides the business partners it is the people on the ground who can benefit from such projects.
Thus my appeal to you all – let us do even more to coordinate and integrate external economic promotion and development cooperation, in view of their common goals and instruments!
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Well over a thousand guests wanted to come to the Business Forum at our Ambassadors Conference. We had to turn down several hundred because our rooms would simply not have been big enough.
I’m sure that one reason for the large number of guests was that the Business Forum was opened for the first time by the two main figures in the field of external economic promotion – Guido Westerwelle and Rainer Brüderle. I would like to thank everyone who made this possible. Our guests at our external economic affairs day were thus able to hear about the entire spectrum of our Federal Government’s external economic promotion.
For the first time we made use of the opportunity of drawing on the expertise of the heads of German missions abroad and of German companies in our numerous discussion sessions, working groups and panel debates. We all were and remain on the search for answers to the present and future challenges facing German foreign trade.
“Values” such as trust, honesty, credibility, competence and reliability are linked in our partners’ minds with Germany, German companies and German politics, and give us an important competitive advantage. According to a BBC poll from March 2010, on average 59% of people in 28 states consider German influence in the world to be positive. That result puts us unequivocally in first place, followed at a distance by Japan and Britain. Germany is attractive and popular – we should be glad! It also goes to show that one is more successful where there is trust.
No other country is as reliant on well-functioning, free world trade as Germany, nor as vulnerable to protectionism. In many countries attempts to protect their markets from international competition all too often do lasting damage to domestic structures. That is why we work in multilateral fora (G8, G20, WTO) and at bilateral level to counter protectionism.
There are still some areas of foreign trade where we have the reserves to go up a gear. When it comes to the operation of complex transport systems, building hospitals, managing numerous infrastructure networks, energy-efficiency technologies, urban and regional planning, wherever things get especially complex and demanding, the know-how of German firms is among the best in the world. Germany has a reputation of being a land of ideas, a modern country that invests in its people, that regards knowledge as the paramount resource and considers innovation to be a well for economic growth and prosperity. That is why German science fora are such an important part of our research and academic relations policy, because they not only convey this image but also disseminate the latest technologies and research results. These beacons of science currently exist in New York, Sao Paulo, New Delhi, Moscow and Tokyo. They are emissaries for German science and business and are gaining in importance as foreign investment in France, England and Germany is dwindling (according to the German Institute for Economic Research).
J. W. Goethe once said: “It is not enough to have knowledge, one must also apply it. It is not enough to have wishes, one must also accomplish!”
Many German companies eschew the (for them) murky risks of international markets and thus often leave the field to other competitors. Support from our Foreign Service can provide crucial help! Together with Chambers of Commerce Abroad and business associations we want to find ways of preparing these fields better for German companies.
I myself will in the months to come campaign for the further development of partnerships for international energy and natural resources. I am indeed soon scheduled to travel with a business delegation to Moscow, Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus. Having good foreign policies on resources and energy is vital for the success of German business.
The work of German tradesmen is becoming ever more highly respected around the world. More and more forward-looking craft enterprises are doing business abroad, setting up centres of excellence offering apprenticeships and theoretical training, technological expertise, reliability and quality. Our Foreign Service will in future do yet more, in cooperation with other external economic promotion stakeholders, to support German craft and service companies abroad.
At today’s Business Forum we introduced our strategy for interactive external economic promotion, tried out new formats and gained important insights. The focus of this year’s Ambassadors Conference has been Latin America. Last year’s conference focused on our neighbouring continent to the south, Africa.
Tomorrow morning, we will hold a regional forum on our “Business Partner Africa”, which will give German companies and the African ambassadors accredited in Berlin a chance to network.
My conclusion is that the interest of German business in working closely with the Federal Foreign Office is unabated and indeed continues to grow. We have extended our palate of services and involvement. We are pushing forward in sectors that are new for us, but which are gaining in importance. And, we have – I hope – been able to make it clear that in the age of globalization economic promotion must be at the forefront of the Federal Foreign Office’s work.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Martin Walser once said: “The road moves on beneath the walker’s feet.”
Germany is a country on the move. Germany is a sporting country.
In 2011 we will host the Women’s World Cup. And so we may hope, gentlemen, that we could yet become world champions on the football pitch!
This brings me to the second principal point of this evening: the German bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The Olympic Games, like sport as a whole, stand for fairness, tolerance and peaceful competition.
Sport is the ideal packaging for intercultural dialogue.Sport brings people together.Sport builds bridges across linguistic, political and cultural divides.Sport breeds trust and tolerance.International Sports Promotion has thus been an integral component of our cultural relations and education policy for over 50 years.
Sport is however also a key means of building up good will for a country.This was illustrated, for example, by Germany’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2006.On fan miles, in beer gardens, football stadia or at home with friends in front of the TV, wherever we were, we felt the positive energy released when millions of people around the world share an enthusiasm.
Of course, it was first and foremost a question of football.But the 2006 “Summer Fairy Tale” also showed Germany to be a cosmopolitan, creative and innovative country, full of joie de vivre!
As I said, I am sure that the Women’s World Cup in Germany next year will again bring out all of these positive characteristics. My fingers are crossed even now for our female football players and the organizers of the event.
The men did a great job of reaching third place once again in South Africa – so, my honoured guests, please go out and sound the drums at home and abroad for the Women’s World Cup and – indirectly – for Germany!
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
The next big chance to raise an international groundswell of good will for Germany through sport will be the Winter Olympics in 2018 – provided Munich’s bid is successful!
I have to admit that I don’t yet have a diary for 2018, but I have entered a great big “Save the Date” for 6 July 2011. That’s the day on which the members of the International Olympic Committee will decide in Durban, South Africa, where the games will be held. Pyeongchang in South Korea and Annecy in France are both also Candidate Cities.
The German Bid Committee has its work cut out for the next nine months.
It has to convince the approximately 110 members of the IOC of the advantages of the German bid, without being permitted to invite them to Bavaria. Instead, Katarina Witt and her team will travel around the world as the Bid Committee’s “Ambassadors” to win support for Munich’s bid.
I would like to take this opportunity to welcome Katarina Witt, Mr Vesper and Mr Schwank and to thank them for joining us tonight.
The Federal Government – and above all Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel – is firmly behind this bid. I think the chances have never been better, nor Germany as well placed internationally as for this bid for the 2018 Winter Games.
It is a wonderful opportunity for the beautiful region around Munich and the city itself. The city would become the first ever to have hosted both the Summer and the Winter Games. An exceptional place, in other words!
Indeed, the great Ernest Hemingway himself once said: “You needn’t bother going anywhere else. I can tell you: you can’t beat Munich. Everything else in Germany is a waste of time.”
That was tonight’s short program. Now I hand over to Ms Witt, Mr Vesper and Mr Schwank for some free skating – the floor is yours!
And good luck for the bid!