Earlier this month, German Finance Minister Sigmar Gabriel spoke frankly with his Chinese counterpart, Gao Hucheng, about his concerns over Chinese takeovers of German firms, while also dismissing rumors of a serious trade dispute. In an email interview, Björn Conrad, the vice president of the Mercator Institute for China Studies, discusses Germany’s trade tensions with China.
WPR: What is the current size and scope of trade relations between Germany and China, and how important is bilateral trade to both economies?
Björn Conrad: China remains one of Germany’s most important economic partners. Overall trade volume makes China Germany’s third-largest trading partner after France and the United States. So far in 2016, almost 10 percent of German imports came from China, more than from any other country in the world. In addition, China is one of the most important markets for a large number of German companies, including the automotive and chemical industries as well as mechanical engineering firms. Many of these companies have built their presence in China for decades, and they make a significant portion of their profits on the Chinese market.