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Joint Event with PNC, Parker Poe Addresses Trump’s Impact on U.S.-German Ties

Mar 6, 2017

The strong economic relationship enjoyed for decades by the United States and Germany could be tested due to potential policy changes by the Trump Administration, a group of local business experts said at two information events hosted by GreerWalker, PNC and Parker Poe in Charlotte and in Greenville, S.C. on March 2 and 3.

“U.S.-German Relations Under the New Trump Administration” addressed the likelihood of changes in the context of recent news. While it’s too early to know exactly what policy initiatives lie ahead, statements by President Trump and Administration officials are a concern to many Germans and Americans. Germany’s central bank director refuted claims by an Administration official that German companies have benefited from an artificially cheap currency. Trump’s trade adviser has said the euro has served as a currency for Germany only and has allowed the country to “exploit” the United States. Trump’s views on climate change have not been well received by Germans. Fellow Republican John McCain told the Munich Security Conference that the Trump Administration is “in disarray.”

Survey results last month by the German research group Infratest dimap said that 7 of 10 Germans do not consider the United States a trusted ally. That all-time low trust factor plunged 37 percent since November.

“The potential impact by the Trump Administration on the German-U.S. alliance is substantial nationally as well as for the Carolinas,” said Klaus Becker, German Honorary Consul for North Carolina, who opened the Charlotte event. “North and South Carolina have economic development offices in Germany to promote the Carolinas to potential German investors. And both states have many economic development organizations that regularly travel to Germany to promote the region and assist potential investors with their companies’ expansion plans.”

Event speakers and panelists focused on expected policy changes, along with the potential impact they might have on the business community and trans-Atlantic relations. Keynote speakers were senior international economist Bill Adams and Dr. Helga Welsh, professor of politics and international affairs at Wake Forest University. They then joined panelists John Norman, CPA and Partner at GreerWalker; and Al Guarnieri, Partner at the law firm of Parker Poe for an open discussion with the audience.

“The stakes here are massive,” Norman said, noting that the United States is the largest non-European investor in Germany with an estimated $108 billion in direct investments. “Our economic and geopolitical relationship with Germany must remain strong, especially in the growing context of a global economy.”

Guarnieri reminded the gathering how America’s relationship with Germany can have a direct impact on jobs at home. U.S. subsidiaries of German-owned companies employ more than 640,000 American workers, making them the third-largest group of foreign employers in this country. “The President has broad powers relating to trade and, although legal or WTO challenges may arise, the President is likely to exercise some of those powers. His rhetoric has targeted China and Mexico, but Germany has not been ignored. What actions he may take, and how fundamentally they might impact U.S.–German business, remains to be seen.”

Panelists for the U.S.-German Relations Event

Panelists for the “U.S.-German Relations Under the New Trump Administration” event hosted by GreerWalker, PNC and Parker Poe in Charlotte and in Greenville, S.C. on March 2 and 3 included (left to right) John Norman, CPA and Partner at GreerWalker; Al Guarnieri, Partner at the law firm of Parker Poe; Dr. Helga Welsh, professor of politics and international affairs at Wake Forest University and Bill Adams vice president and senior international economist at PNC Bank. Photo by Daniel Coston Photography, Charlotte.