Schroeder wines and dines bosses of US firms

1st June 2005, Comments 0 comments

1 June 2005, BERLIN - Gerhard Schroeder is inviting 15 top managers from German subsidiaries of US firms to dinner at the chancellery on Wednesday, with the SPD's recent anti-capitalist rhetoric likely to be the main talking point.

1 June 2005

BERLIN - Gerhard Schroeder is inviting 15 top managers from German subsidiaries of US firms to dinner at the chancellery on Wednesday, with the SPD's recent anti-capitalist rhetoric likely to be the main talking point.

Dirk Müller, director of the American Chamber of Commerce said that he hoped that "the emotionality will be taken out of the debate," in remarks quoted by the Handelsblatt daily.

The tyre manufacturer Goodyear Dunlop, whose group managing director Gerhard Grünenwald is taking part in the dinner, was also hoping for a more rational debate. "It's to do with good relationships with Germany and good conditions for investment," a Goodyear Dunlop spokeswoman told the Handelsblatt.

She added that "the 'locust' debate was certainly not very helpful in that respect," referring to recent comments by SPD leader Franz Müntefering in which he compared international investors to locusts.

Among Schroeder's other guests at the several-course dinner will be General Motors' European director Carl-Peter Forster and the bosses of German subsidiaries of Hewlett-Packard, IBM, General Electric, and Pfizer.

Also present will be Jürgen Weber, head of Lufthansa's supervisory board and a representative of the 'Invest in Germany' agency which aims to encourage inward investment. Weber indirectly threatened to step down in April, following Müntefering's remarks.

Müller said US companies were worried about the damage Müntefering's remarks could cause. "We can't yet claim that investors are staying away because of the capitalism debate," said Müller. "But it is already damaging [Germany's] image."

Müller also said that Schroeder's recent unexpected decision to bring forward the general election didn't change anything. "Jobs are created only by having suitable conditions for investment, which is also true even during an election campaign".

The Chamber of Commerce said it had not noticed any reduction in interest in the meeting with Schroeder on the part of the managers, even though the German government may change after the September election.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: German news

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