Asian Summit Meetings
The meeting between the German Chancellor and the Chinese Prime Minister at the Asian-Europe Summit (ASEM), which ends today and the EU-China Summit to begin tomorrow are focused on the expansion of economic relations to Asia, in general, and particularly to China. German companies are making a growing number of record investments in China. For example the Volkswagen factory in Shanghai is the largest automobile factory in the world. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) Even as a importer of German products, the People's Republic is also moving up the scale. During the first semester of 2010, German exports to China rose 55 percent reaching a value of 25.2 billion Euros, just under the 27 billion Euros in exports to the United States, which is stagnating at 5.9 percent of the total volume of German exports. Even with a weaker growth, Germany will soon be supplying China more goods than the USA.
The high significance Berlin places on the relations with China can be seen in its choice of an appointment last month. In the power struggle for the most important positions in the new European External Action Service (EAS), the German government was able to place one of its diplomats in the post of the EU ambassador to China, providing Germany "a position of strategic significance", according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Markus Ederer, the designated EU ambassador, directed the planning staff in the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, after having held other prominent posts, for example as cabinet director of the special coordinator of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe. Ederer began his carrier in the German foreign intelligence as the manager of the Political/Economic Evaluation sub-section of the Federal Intelligence Service (BND).
Ring Around China
Besides expanding its lucrative business relations with Beijing, Berlin is making a concerted effort to strengthen its standing in the countries surrounding the People's Republic of China - and is thereby taking part in the Western encirclement of China. The most recent initiative was the Free Trade Agreement between the EU and South Korea, to be signed at the EU-South Korea Summit tomorrow, which is supposed to be a strong stimulus to business relations. It will "give particularly German companies a boost in their business with Korea," business circles are predicting. The agreement is supposed to increase the trade volume between the EU and South Korea by approximately 19 billion Euros. The automobile industries in Europe are divided in their opinions. Whereas the Italian FIAT Corporation fears significant losses to its South Korean rivals, German companies are hoping for new export successes. According to government circles, Seoul has agreed to not complicate German automobile exports with imposition of environmental standards.