A German Steel Man on U.S. Manufacturing, Global Trade

By December 13, 2010Economy, Infrastructure, Trade

From the remarks of Ekkehard D. Schulz, chairman of the executive board of ThyssenKrupp AG, at the Dec. 10 news conference in Calvert, Ala., making the formal dedication of the company’s new steel plant.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am speaking to you here as the chief executive of a German corporation, and I can tell you: The German economy has recovered faster and better from the global economic crisis than other industrialized nations. Booming exports have accelerated growth. Unlike many other western countries, Germany profited clearly from its large manufacturing sector. Even during the crisis, the share of manufacturing in overall economic output averaged 25 percent. All in all, we can say that thanks to its industry Germany mastered the crisis extremely well.

Ekkehard Schulz

The German steel industry also weathered this difficult period well. Orders and capacity utilization recovered sooner than expected. The industry responded quickly to the difficult economic situation by cutting capacities and introducing short-time working. That helped preserve jobs and get production back up to speed quickly. Just a few years ago, German industry was described as “old economy”. Today, the German model of a strong industrial sector can set an example for the future.

The United States also has an industrial base, but one which has declined in importance in recent years. The share of manufacturing output in the USA fell recently to 16 percent. But the importance of industry, in particular the automotive and engineering sectors, will grow again significantly. The USA is on the right track here. If we didn’t believe that, we wouldn’t have made this major investment in our new plant.

ThyssenKrupp has enjoyed excellent support here from government and industry associations and a friendly reception from the people. We look forward to a long-term partnership with Alabama and the region of Mobile. In this way we will underline the traditional friendship between America and Germany.

We hope that the US administration will also see and acknowledge this. ThyssenKrupp is creating jobs for US citizens, has awarded contracts worth millions to local companies and is paying taxes here. We identify with this region and want to be seen as Americans, as part of this community. That means there can be no room for protectionist or exclusionary tendencies. On this issue, we trust that government will continue to provide the same outstanding support it did in the past when it came to locating our plant here.

Access to raw materials and trade routes was critical to ThyssenKrupp’s decision to build in Alabama. As the company’s news release states: “The decision to build a greenfield plant in the USA was made in May 2007. The Calvert location in Mobile County was chosen for its excellent logistics with direct access to the Gulf of Mexico for the supply of starting materials from Brazil. Further advantages included short distances to customers in the industrial centers of the southern USA, Mexico and Canada, the availability of employees and the broad support of government and industry associations in Alabama.”

For more on the facility and dedication, go here.

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