-- Translation of advance text! --
guten Abend und herzlich willkommen in Berlin.
Dear Margarita, thank you very much for your kind words of welcome. It is a great pleasure and honor for me to be with you here tonight. Ambassador Tanaka, thank you so much for being with us to talk about this very timely subject: The trilateral relationship between America, Europe and Japan.
The recent strategic “pivot to Asia” of the United States has drawn a lot of attention. The USA is putting an increased emphasis on being a “Pacific Nation” and on developing stronger ties with Asia. President Obama hosted the APEC summit in Honolulu and participated in the East Asia Summit. Secretary Clinton wrote a remarkable article in Foreign Affairs about the strategy of the USA in Asia. The Transpacific Partnership is in the making. All in all, the U.S. is very serious about building a web of partnerships and institutions across the Pacific which is comparable to the one we have across the Atlantic. Japan as America’s indispensable and strongest Asian ally is of course at the center of this partnership.
At the same time, we clearly see that the U.S. is also firmly committed to remaining a European power. NATO will continue to be the most important security alliance in the world. The scope of the US military redeployment in Europe will be limited. Major changes however are happening in the Middle East and Central Asia with the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq and the planned transition in Afghanistan in 2014.
Japan, the United States and Europe share important security interestsbeyond the Euro-Atlantic area. Stability and conflict-prevention in the Asia-Pacific region, open trade routes in the Indian Ocean and a stable Afghanistan are in our common interest. We are particularly thankful to Japanese leadership for hosting the important Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan on July 8, 2012.
The American pivot to Asia is of course also a function of the rapid economic growth in Asia, in particular in China and in India. The strategic emphasis on Asia is a very rational decision to gradually shift an increasing part of attention and strategic resources to the most dynamic region of our globe. Europe is doing very much the same for its own good reasons, albeit with less public attention.
When you look at overall economic figures and total numbers, Europe accounted still for more than half of total foreign output of U.S. affiliates in 2008, nearly US $ 1.2 trillion. U.S. investment in Europe was nearly four times more than that in all of Asia at the end of 2009. Obviously, transatlantic economic ties are still very powerful. At the same time, an increased U.S. economic engagement in Asia also is in European and especially in Germany’s interest.
The German economy has already pivoted towards Asia some time ago. German trade with Asia is on a steady rise, not only with China, but also with Korea, India and the ASEAN countries. Our relations with Japan are not as dynamic any more as they used to be. Both sides clearly need to increase their efforts to make good use of the common potential.
In this context, Germany has been very active as an interlocutor for both sides to promote negotiations for a new trade agreement between the EU and Japan. The decision to launch formal free trade negotiations with Japan is due to be taken by the Council of the European Union during the fall after the Commission will have issued its recommendation. The decision to remove non-tariff-related barriers to trade on the one side and to reduce tariffs on the other side needs courage, but, and I am convinced of that, will be to the benefit of both sides at the end of the day.
As a trading nation, Germany relies on fair rules and standards for all, on unhindered access to raw materials, and on free shipping lanes. Strategic stability in Asia is as much in America’s interest as it is in our own, and we do welcome America’s efforts in this regard.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are living in a truly globalized world. As individual nations, Germany and Japan have not enough weight to shape global outcomes by themselves. But as trading nations with global involvement and interdependence, we have a crucial interest in stability and a world order based on international law and democratic values we jointly share with the United States. We are convinced that our trilateral partnership with the United States and Japan will continue to be vital to all of us.
Ambassador Tanaka, we are very much looking forward to listening to your thoughts and ideas on this subject.