President Donald Trump will host German Chancellor Angela Merkel today at the White House, and while Trump has accused Germany of being a currency manipulator, Merkel will try to convince the president on the need for strong relations between the two countries. That’s what Ulf Roeller, the Washington, D.C. correspondent for ZDF sees happening.
Roeller joined host Mark Garrison to discuss how Merkel could approach today’s meeting with Trump. Below is an edited transcript.
Mark Garrison: So Trump and his team have attacked Germany over its massive trade surplus with America, attacked the tax system in Europe, and accused Germany of using the EU and the weak currency to get its way. These messages — how are they going over with German business and political leaders?
Ulf Roeller: I mean, I think the German business and political leaders are really scared about Donald Trump because they have the feeling Donald Trump is not only threatening the German economy. So they have the feeling he might put some tariffs on German products which would harm their business model.
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Garrison: And so when the conversation turns to trade and business topics between Trump and Merkel, what do you think Merkel is going to emphasize in terms of what is important to her country?
Roeller: Our chancellor is coming to the United States to really explain how important it is, now only from the German perspective, also from the American perspective. She’s coming there with two big CEOs from German companies. One is the CEO from BMW and the other is the CEO from Siemens. What she is trying to explain with these two guys is these two companies create a lot of blue-collar jobs, a lot of jobs maybe for people who might have voted for Donald Trump. So what she’s trying to tell him is if you start to harm the German economy, if you start to harm Siemens and BMW, you basically harm yourself and your interests.
Garrison: If you look across Europe at the various elections and referendums that have happened, there is a wave of people who are questioning the European Union. How does that play out for Merkel when she is a strong supporter of the EU?
Roeller: Since World War II, it has been crystal clear for every American president, from the perspective of the Germans, that a strong European Union which is unified is also in the interest of American society and of American foreign policy. For the first time there is a president in the White House who believes maybe a weak European Union is a good thing because, “I can get deals with each single country and that maybe is a benefit for America.” So Angela Merkel is really trying to convince him a strong and unified European Union is in the interest of the United States. If she will be successful? I think we’ll know in a couple of months.