Cologne. Berhard Mattes is CEO of Ford Germany, based in Cologne and president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany. Ralf Arenz and Jens Meifert of GA spoke with him after the U.S. election.
Did you see a Trump victory coming?
Bernhard Mattes: No, I had thought the Democrats would win by a small margin and that they would reach a majority in both the Senate and House of Representatives. Neither happened. We have to deal with that.
What do you expect from Donald Trump? Or should we ask, what are you afraid of?
Mattes: The expectation is clear: that his comments about trade restrictions and protectionism veer into a more “weltoffenere” (open-minded or more liberal) direction. Isolation is not a model for the future. The USA is well-connected in a global world, there should be no barriers. Trump announced he would unite the country. I hope he really means that. The division is deep, and it runs through the whole nation.
Does the trade agreement TTIP still have a chance?
Mattes: I don’t see a conclusion being reached before the end of the Obama administration. But I think, also with Trump, there ought to be a willingness to consider the merits of the trade agreement. The Europeans should keep TTIP on the agenda.
Do you expect a worsening of relations with Germany?
Mattes: Trump made immigration into one of his themes and used it in context with the wave of refugees in Europe. There was criticism of the willingness of the Chancellor to take in so many refugees.
How should the German government deal with the new president?
Mattes: My hope is that lines of communication are kept open and intensified. Only when we from Europe stay involved in an intensive dialogue (with the U.S.) will we be able to solve the big tasks together. Look at the questions concerning refugees, the war in Syria, the fight against ISIS, these are problems we can only solve together. Dialogue can only happen when both sides come together.
Do you see any consequences for Ford, for your company?
Mattes: No, we will also approach important topics with the new administration. They include framework conditions for autonomous driving or emissions and fuel consumption. These things are only realized through politics, and we hope there will be success.