Angela Merkel wants to strengthen cooperation with China. The Chancellor sees a number of new opportunities, especially in the IT sector. Due to the dominance of US corporations in this sphere, Europeans are looking for new partners.
The article originally appeared at German Economic News. Translated for RI by Anita Zalaldinova
At the start of CeBIT German Chancellor Angela Merkel promoted a close collaboration with the emerging IT industry in China – but at the same time also called for fair rules. ‘It really provides cooperation’, the CDU politician said during her speech at the start of the fair on Sunday night in Hanover. But this is also necessary to know: ‘Companies and investors have a natural interest to know under what conditions they work. Predictability, reliability, equal treatment of different companies in our countries’.
The planned investment protection agreement for businesses between the EU and China is an important point here. ‘Germany is committed to the soonest possible conclusion of the agreement’, Merkel said. The so-called investment protection has to do with the question in what way the foreign investors would be protected from the governmental paternalism in the host country and how reliable the legal basis of the standards is. In connection with the transatlantic free trade agreements TTIP the investment protection is one of the controversial issues as in this way the national courts lose their significance. However, the issue of wage dumping is a much greater problem in global free trade agreements. This should also apply to China. German politicians have spoken on this issue in terms of either the US or China.
In China, which is controlled by the only ruling Communist Party, there are always complaints about know-how protection or free market or open competition. In the key industries foreign firms get market access only by cooperation local partners.
Indeed, the Europeans have long been looking for new partners: problems with the NSA and the close collaboration of Google, Apple and Facebook with the US authorities forced the EU countries to look around for alternative partners. Germany has been above all rebuffed by the privacy requirements of the Americans.
The Asian giant country was ready to remove trade barriers and obstacles of any kind, to establish a global market, Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Ma Kai said at the ceremony in Hanover. He also agitated for establishing an international regulatory framework for IT security. Germany and China are leaders in the Asian and European markets, both countries now reaching a new level of partnership. Courage to innovate must be combined with international cooperation.
China's Premier Li Keqiang stated in a video message that Germany was an important pioneer in the implementation of the digital revolution in the economy (‘Industry 4.0’). ‘China wants to become a partner and complement the process’, he said.
The founder of the Chinese online-platform ‘Alibaba’ Jack Ma said that the stability of German companies such as Mercedes-Benz and Siemens is a model for the digital economy. He was therefore present at CeBIT ‘because I want to find this missing part of the internet puzzle’.
The displacement of established economic activities in the IT sector will muddle the local economy, the industry association Bitkom thinks. Thus, the digitization will foreseeably force the independent retailers or the small artisans around the corner to change the way of thinking, warned Bitkom CEO Dieter Kempf. ‘No stone will be left standing in economy’. As an example, Kempf named a carpenter who can be competed by the 3D printer. ‘Then the one who has access to most shapes and colours in the Internet will become another competitor’.