At the G7 summit in Taormina, much is at stake: the unity of the leading countries is history, goals such as climate protection and free trade are no longer self-evident. The outcome of the meeting is difficult to predict. Decisive is the course of US President Trump – and that could be dangerous.
Free trade particularly is a thorn in Trump’s side. During a meeting with the EU leaders on Thursday, he attacked the German car industry again. In doing so, he ignores the importance of German manufacturers for the American economy: they secure hundreds of thousands of jobs in the United States and export German brands „Made in the USA“ to the whole world. Last year, German car manufacturers produced some 850,000 vehicles in the USA, which were then partially sold on the European market. The largest car exporter from the USA is not General Motors or Ford, but BMW with its corporate seat in Germany.
The fact that world trade today is different than in the textbook, Trump does not take into account in his economic policy course. Countries nowadays are no longer specialized in individual sectors, but in individual production stages. If a product bears the label „Assembled in China“ – as with a well-known smartphone – it does not mean that its production is creating jobs in China alone. The components come from all over the world, the development process takes place in the USA. Instead of reflecting on the strength of the US economy, namely, the development of high technology, Trump wants to turn back clocks and revive traditional industries like the steel and coal industries.
Protectionist measures would therefore be detrimental to global trade, but also to the USA itself. Trade partners, including Germany, will continue to rely on free trade, if necessary without the US, as for example the EU Commission in negotiating a free trade agreement with the Mercosur countries of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.