The Iran Deal Is Not Dead

It just smells funny. At least that’s what Germany seems to think.

Iran

You see, spokesmen for German industry plan to call up Donald Trump and explain to him that the “US Iran call is illegal.” Then, once they’ve straightened that up with him, everything ought to be hunky dory, right? And they can go back to getting moola from the mullahs again.

They better hurry up, though. America’s new ambassador to Germany has only been in office for twenty-four hours and already has a really bad case of ITF (Itchy Twitter Finger).

For the past year, German officials have been urging their U.S. counterparts to send a new ambassador to Berlin. But after finally receiving one, many may be having second thoughts.

Within hours of assuming his new post on Tuesday, Richard Grenell triggered harsh criticism in this Trump-weary country after appearing to threaten one of the American president’s frequent targets: German businesses.

“German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately.”

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German Of The Day: Standpauke

That means lecture. And according to the Spiegel, that’s what Angela Merkel is about to get from Donald Trump.

Merkel

Well, folks. If it’s not in the Spiegel it didn’t happen. Or ain’t gonna happen, in this case. So “dress warmly,” Angela, as the German saying goes.

After Macron’s two-day Trump charm offensive, Merkel plays “bad cop” in Washington.

Angela Merkel won’t be showered with the pomp and praise that marked Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to Washington this week—let alone with any touch-feely back rubs. The German chancellor comes armed with spreadsheets, rather than Gallic charm, and has just a couple of hours to try and head off Trump’s looming aluminum-and-steel tariffs and protect German businesses.

“In Germany, every fourth job depends on exports. In the industrial sectors, it’s more than every second job.”

This Could Mean War Or Something

Tariff war. World War T. You know, the end of the world as we know it? Then it’s all over but the crying. And the Zombie Apocalypse. It’ll be  Zombie Apocalypse Now, so-to-speak.

Steel

Yawn.

Berlin holds little hope that the EU will be granted a further exemption from US metals tariffs beyond a May 1 deadline. Washington has offered the bloc a reprieve to speed up talks on a series of trade issues.

The German news agency DPA reported on Thursday that the upcoming meeting between Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Donald Trump — scheduled for the weekend — was unlikely to win the EU a further exemption from higher steel and aluminum tariffs planned by Washington.

Citing government sources, DPA said the Trump administration’s plans to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports to the United States would likely come into effect on May 1.

But maybe something miraculous will happen at the absolutely very last second to hold off trade war Armageddon. Maybe it won’t. Hard to say for sure so be sure to stay tuned.

Bundesregierung befürchtet Handelskrieg mit den USA

But Nobody Said We Couldn’t Do It Until Now

Trump is right about trade and Merkel needs to do something about it, former German state secretary says.

Trade

In early March, Trump started by implementing tariffs on aluminum and steel imports — measures that did not represent a big impact for China, but did for countries like Japan and potentially Europe too.

Germany has also faced international criticism for its trade surplus, which means its exports outweigh its imports, as some see it as unfair, imbalanced and a cause for protectionism elsewhere.

“Germany is really out there as the main culprit, so to say, because Germany has the highest surplus, much higher than China in terms of GDP… Germany has to do something against it, that’s absolutely clear,”

“Trump is awful but…”

“He’s right.”

Handelsbilanz

Uh-oh. All bets are off now. I may have found a German economist who is willing to take an unpopular stand and defend certain aspects of the Trump administration’s policy. Unpopular? Sacrilegious is more like it, right?

“On one side there’s the EU with a trade surplus that is mostly supplied by the huge German surplus. On the other side is the USA that has been living with deficits for 30 years. Germany is the world’s largest surplus country and the USA is the world’s largest deficit country. The trade practiced between these two national economies may be free but it is not efficient. This criticism of the German undervaluation strategy – that is, the relatively weak salary increases combined with a weak euro – has been around since presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Politicians in Congress have warned about making trade deals with notorious surplus countries. Trump is just the first one to do anything about it.”

“Every country can do whatever it wants – but not when it is part of a currency union in which there are no exchange rates that could be adjusted. Germany procures an advantage in global trade not just due to the quality of its products vis-a-vis its EU partners, the USA and other countries. In the past 15 years salaries in Germany have remained far behind productivity. We gain advantages over other national economies through wage dumping.”

“Will the punitive tariffs have a real effect on the German economy? Not so quickly. They have just been little needle pricks up until now. But if the EU now pursues the loud-mouth announcements made by Commission President Jean-Claud Juncker and reacts with its own punitive tariffs it is possible that the USA’s reaction will be more massive. Yet Trump is merely following a very simple rule here that no one in Germany wants to believe: The losers in such a trade conflict will be the trade surplus countries and the winners will be the deficit countries.”

Aber wenn die EU jetzt den großmäuligen Ankündigungen des EU-Kommissionspräsidenten Jean-Claude Juncker folgt und mit eigenen Strafzöllen reagiert, kann es sein, dass die USA noch massiver reagieren. Trump folgt doch einer einfachen Regel, die in Deutschland niemand wahr haben will: Verlieren werden in einem solchen Handelskonflikt die Handelsüberschussländer und gewinnen werden die Defizitländer.

Germans Oddly Quiet About Protests In Iran

I wonder why?

Iran

I know, let’s ask the Tasnim News Agency: The head of the German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce said Germany sold 2.358 billion euros ($2.846 billion) worth of goods to Iran, and imported just $328 million worth of goods from Iran in nine months from January through October 2017.

“Germany’s trade surplus with Iran is massive. But that’s nothing new. The Iranians complain about it from time to time, and we try to find ways to encourage more Iranian exports into Europe and Germany, but we’ve been running big trade surpluses with Iran for forty years.”

German Of The Day: Schlecht

That means bad. Or böse. That means worse. You know, like in “bad, very bad.”

Trump

President Donald Trump has reportedly reignited tensions with his EU counterparts after calling the Germans “very bad” for their trade surplus with the U.S. The president vowed to block German car exports to the U.S. during a meeting with top EU leaders on Thursday, according to German news magazine Der Spiegel.

I don’t know, folks. Whether this is true or not, I have a very böse feeling about all of this. Not.

“The Germans are bad, very bad. Look at the millions of cars they’re selling in the U.S. We will stop that.”

German Of The Day: Exportüberschuss

That means export or trade surplus. In this case the German trade surplus, of course.

Export

Also see: Böse Buben. That means bad boys.

Christine Lagarde (IMF) and Donald Trump may not have much in common at first glance but one thing they seem to agree upon is Germany’s trade surplus. That is, Germany exports more to, say, the USA than it imports from that country (same procedure with practically every other country Germany deals with, too). And it’s been like forever already.

So Germany, just in case you didn’t know it, you’re being a very bad boy.

Deutschland wird zum bösen Buben des Welthandels.

Kissing Up To Iran 101

I find it strange how such a super-smart (self-proclaimed, but still) German politician like German economy minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD), somebody so hot to do business with Iran that his pants are always wet, doesn’t seem to know the first thing about the finer points of diplomacy when it comes to dealing with the mullah state.

Gabriel

Sure, you can always get plus points by promising the Iranians to “remind the United States of the commitment to get to an effective dismantling of sanctions,” but every third grader knows that you can’t give interviews before your visit in which you say that you believe Tehran should recognize the right of Israel to exist. Pretty outrageous Scheiße, huh?

So that is why he is now getting snuffed big time during his current visit. There will be no meeting with Iran’s President Ruhani nor with foreign minister Sarif. The visit planned with parliament president Laridschani has now suddenly been cancelled, Laridschani’s brother commenting to the press “If I had been in the place of the government or foreign office I would never have allowed such a person to enter the country in the first place.”

Other than that, though, German business prospects with Iran are looking really promising.

“Ein normales, freundschaftliches Verhältnis zu Deutschland wird erst dann möglich sein.”

Bye American

And take those dopey google-goggle thingies with you when you go.

Obama

And don’t let the virtually real door hit you on your way out.

And no tongues.

Buy American, buy German – auf der Hannover Messe frotzeln Merkel und Obama miteinander. Die Regierungschefs wissen, dass sich die Unternehmen ihrer Länder einen harten Kampf um Absatzmärkte liefern.