Free trade – Time for European policy makers to step up

At the VDMA General Assembly on November 10 and 11, 2016, participants in working group I will discuss what policy makers and the mechanical engineering sector can do to secure free trade.

Foreign trade is essential in order to maintain wealth in Germany. This is particularly the case for the German mechanical and plant engineering sector, whose export ratio of more than 75 percent demonstrates that it relies on open markets. Both policy makers and companies need to ensure that free trade is possible worldwide. It is the responsibility of policy makers to create the right framework for a free exchange of goods. That is why Germany – a particularly large exporter – needs to advocate as much liberalization as possible, both bilaterally and multilaterally.

EU responsible for trade policy

In the working group “Ensuring free trade – What can policy makers and the mechanical engineering sector do?”, decision-makers from both the government and business come together to discuss this issue in detail. The European Union, which is responsible for joint trade policy, plays a huge role here.
Inspirational presentations and panel discussions will examine the question of how free trade can be ensured for the future, while audience surveys will capture the mood among the participants.

TTIP in the spotlight

Discussions on a possible Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) have triggered intensive debate on the fundamental principles, advantages and disadvantages of free trade. People in some parts of Europe, especially Germany, are concerned about the planned agreement with the USA. It is up to both national and European policy makers to demonstrate the effects of free trade in detail and to communicate them in an open dialog. Companies need to develop strategies to adapt to the constantly-changing market environment.

The participants will therefore look at what policy makers and the mechanical engineering sector can do if the free exchange of goods is hampered or entire markets break away, what room they have to maneuver and what specific measures companies can expect policy makers to take.

Trading goods in the future

The working group will also think about the question of whether the trade of goods will continue in its current form in the future. The core issues here are how goods will be traded in the future and the extent to which digital processes affect the flow of goods. A presentation from an economic science perspective will shed light on the current business model.

 

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Oliver Wack
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Image provided: Maksym-Yemelyanov | Fotolia