German Chancellor Merkel is in Washington holding discussions with President Obama on a number of issues, including the deteriorating situation in Ukraine. The White House released a fact sheet on bilateral relations between two NATO allies.
The United States and Germany are long-standing allies and friends, and our countries continue to deepen cooperation across a wide range of issues, enhancing a partnership that is instrumental to meeting the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. Bilaterally and through multilateral mechanisms including NATO, the United Nations, the G-7, and the G-20, the United States and Germany work together to advance a shared agenda of peace, prosperity, and freedom.
Working Together to Boost our Economies
The United States and Germany have one of the world’s strongest economic relationships, and our countries are committed to policies that will support the global recovery. We support efforts that will boost demand, create new jobs, and promote strong, sustainable, and balanced growth. President Obama and Chancellor Merkel are devoted to further strengthening this relationship through the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) agreement, currently being negotiated by the United States and the European Union. A comprehensive and ambitious T-TIP agreement that eliminates duties on bilateral goods trade; reduces regulatory and other non-tariff barriers while maintaining high standards for environmental, labor, and consumer protection; and charts joint approaches to global trade challenges of common concern will boost growth and support good jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. T-TIP also will generate savings for consumers and open up new opportunities for U.S. and German entrepreneurs and companies, particularly small and medium-sized businesses.
The United States and Germany are leaders in promoting education and training as a key factor for strengthening economic and social growth. Since 2012, we have been cooperating through the Skills Initiative, launched by the German Embassy to the United States and actively supported by the U.S. Department of Commerce. This important initiative brings together leading German companies with U.S. state and local officials, representatives of community colleges and other educational institutions, and labor experts to share information and best practices for developing a skilled workforce. The Administration will continue to look for ways to intensify and further develop our cooperation with Germany in the area of workforce education and training.
Germany is the largest economy in Europe, the world’s fourth largest economy, and our top trading partner in the European Union. In 2012, our two-way trade in goods and services totaled $210 billion. Furthermore, the U.S.-German trade relationship is driven by mutual investment. The value of German direct investment in the United States in 2012 was almost $200 billion, while U.S. direct investment in Germany was $121.2 billion.
Cooperating on Global Challenges
The United States and Germany are NATO allies. Our countries have worked together for decades on our shared goal of a Europe whole, free, and at peace, and we have stood together to oppose Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, its illegal occupation and annexation of Crimea, and its other efforts to destabilize Ukraine. We are working together to help Ukraine as it pursues urgently needed reforms to stabilize its economy, reform its constitution, combat corruption, strengthen its energy security, and hold free and fair elections on May 25.
For generations, the German people have been gracious hosts to U.S. forces in Europe, with more than 45,000 military personnel and dependents currently based in Germany. Our troops have stood shoulder-to-shoulder in Afghanistan for more than a decade. Together, the United States and Germany coordinate closely on the full range of security issues, including counterterrorism, defense capabilities, and sanctions implementation. We also work together on multilateral concerns including Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, the Middle East, and the Balkans. Our two countries continue to lead international efforts to address climate change, both in the development of a new global climate agreement for 2015 as well as through complementary initiatives to reduce emissions through concrete actions.
We are pleased that on June 26, Germany will host the second annual U.S.-Germany Cyber Bilateral meeting. The United States and Germany have been cooperating on many key cyber issues over the course of the last decade, and this whole-of-government dialogue seeks to identify additional areas for awareness and alignment. The following day, June 27, we will hold a German-American Cyber Dialogue, a multi-stakeholder dialogue in which participants will discuss the relationship between Big Data, security, and privacy, as well as international cyber cooperation.
Linking Two Continents
Connections among citizens of the United States and Germany are strong, benefitting from long and varied academic, professional, and cultural exchange programs. From the first German settlement in America in 1683, Germans have made their mark on America and some 50 million or more Americans can claim German heritage.
Today, millions of Germans visit the United States each year for tourism or business, and each year, more than 1.5 million U.S. citizens visit Germany. More than 20,000 exchange visitors came to the United States from Germany in 2012, with the secondary school student program attracting the greatest number of participants. The United States is the top destination for German high school students studying abroad, while Germany is the top host country for American high school students studying abroad. More than 40,000 Americans and Germans – students, teachers, researchers and professors – have been awarded grants through the German-American Fulbright Program.
Looking Toward the Future
The enduring partnership between our nations and the deep friendship between our peoples are rooted in our shared values and common commitment to democracy, the respect for human rights, and the rule of law. We have done much work together, and our ties will only grow stronger as we continue addressing critical transatlantic and global issues in pursuit of our common goals.