We’re begging you, Angela! German industry urges Merkel to plead with Biden for free trade

Queen greets Germany's Angela Merkel at Windsor Castle

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And in a clear illustration of the pressure the German economy has come under as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Siegfried Russwurm, chairman of the Federation of German Industries (BDI) has stressed: “Transatlantic trade must get going again.” Mr Russwurm, whose organisation is generally regarded as the voice of German industry, was speaking on the day Mrs Merkel arrived for what is likely to be her last visit to the US before she steps down as Chancellor.

He said: “Germany and the EU would do well to position themselves confidently in the transatlantic relationship.

“Germany and the EU would do well to position themselves confidently in the transatlantic relationship.”

Mr Russwurm insisted it was important for the US and the EU to “become strong partners” in order to tackle what he described as “major challenges such as climate change”.

Outlining his vision, he added: “An economically strong Europe is central to strengthening the assertiveness of Western values in the world.

“Suspending punitive tariffs in the aviation subsidy dispute is a critical step in resolving trade disputes.

“Tariffs on steel and aluminium imports continue to weigh on transatlantic trade.

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“The US and the EU should abolish all tariffs on industrial goods.”

Mr Russwurm added: “The EU and the USA should align technical standards and, wherever possible, recognise each other’s conformity assessments.

“Transatlantic trade must get going again.”

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US entry restrictions were putting a strain on transatlantic relations, Mr Russwurm stressed.

He explained: “German companies have great problems sending their employees to the US, even though the EU has lifted its restrictions on US citizens.

“Production in the USA, on which many American jobs depend, is suffering from the entry restrictions.

“With a total of around 860,000 employees, German companies are the largest group of foreign employers.

“It would be an expression of great confidence to relax the entry regulations into the USA for business travellers from Germany again. “

US President Joe Biden, 78, and Mrs Merkel, 66, will likely discuss joining forces to fight threats to democracy around the world, counter Russian cyberattacks and territorial aggression in Eastern Europe, as China’s push to dominate advanced technologies, officials in both governments said today.

Ending the pandemic and halting climate change will also come up, they said.

However, the two leaders do not have much time to work together on strengthening ties between the world’s largest and fourth-largest economies.

Mrs Merkel, chancellor since 2005, plans to exit Germany’s government after national elections in September, meaning she is likely to be seen as a “lame duck” in her final months in power.

Polling suggests her Christian Democrats are poised to take the lead in forming a government after the election.

Nevertheless, it remains unclear which parties would be included in a coalition.

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