Celle Castle Talk: „My country first“

"My country first - Trump, Brexit & Co. change the world" was the title of our fifth Celle Castle Talk on 9 May 2017. Looking at the outcome of the US election and the Brexit, we discussed with our guests: Is the globalisation over? Are countries sealing themselves off now? And above all: How will the protectionism of important trading partners impact the Lower Saxony economy?

In conversation with moderator Astrid Frohloff, DMAN director Harald Becker underlined the topicality: "In addition to demographic change and the shortage of skilled labour, protectionism is the next major challenge – the German economy should be prepared." He praised the dual vocational training as a decisive success factor for the business location Germany.


Dr. Jörg Nigge, newly elected mayor of Celle, welcomed the audience of approximately 140 guests in "what will soon be the most economy-friendly city in Germany." Nigge has set himself the goal to further expand Celle as a business site and to proactively approach companies willing to settle and invest in the region.

The keynote speech was delivered by Prof. Michael Hüther, head of the German Economic Institute. It is clear to him that globalized trade is not a zero-sum game because trade is always beneficial for both sides: "Protectionism and populism are the brake pads of globalization. Competition lives from the fact that everyone can participate. Those who jeopardize free trade will only hurt themselves." However, Hüther also noted that political uncertainties such as the election of US President Donald Trump or the Brexit will have little concrete effect on the actual GDP growth: "The German economy is not easily taken aback by these events." Germany particularly benefits from its strong economic clusters, the dual vocational training and the social partnerships, which combine to make the location so strong.

Dr. Volker Schmidt, managing director of NiedersachsenMetall, pointed out that the metal and electrical industries are robust industrial sectors: "The results of our latest economic survey show that our member companies are quite self-confident about the announcements of the new US administration. It is above all the US industry itself that is structurally dependent on imports. Due to their large export tendency, industrial SMEs in Lower Saxony are vigilant, but not worried."

This view was shared and confirmed by Uwe Hehl, CEO of the Gelnhausen automotive supplier Veritas AG, in the round table discussion that followed. At this point, Hüther once again underlined the importance of free trade: "To open the borders and accept others is a success factor for integration. If many people benefit from free trade and create new jobs, this is an effective means of fighting populism." Schmidt agreed and added: "Leading positions have to be worked out again and again – by companies as well as by the economy as a whole."

The event was accompanied by "Sophie(l) zum Thema Jazz", a group of young musicians from Celle.

The get-together in the Caroline Mathilde rooms of the Celle Museum gave the participants the opportunity to exchange information and experiences in a nice, informal atmosphere.

The Celle Castle Talks are organized by Deutsche Management Akademie Niedersachsen and NiedersachsenMetall with the aim to give decision makers in Lower Saxony impulses and concrete support for their activities on domestic and international markets.

Photos: Torsten Volkmer

A report on the Celle Castle Talk in May 2017 can be found at CelleHeute (in German).