Cooperation between the 2 countries ? How ?
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, calling for closer cooperation with the countries of North Africa, intends to obviously achieve, on the occasion of her visit, more of the security situation in the region and by the same consolidate the economic relations between the 2 countries. Chancellor Angela Merkel in Algiers on 20 and 21 February follows on the Algerian Prime Minister’s visit on 12 January 2016 that in addition to the discussed security aspects, it had enrolled as part of the consolidation of economic cooperation between Algeria and Germany notably through the germano-algerian joint commission. This latter was set up in 2010, following the visit of the president of the Algerian Republic, to Berlin.
German politics traditionally are normally dominated by two large movements, the CDU – CSU (the Christian democratic union of Ms Merkel and its Bavarian ally, the Christian Social Union) and the SPD (Social Democratic Party). German diplomacy strives to develop a balanced position in its dialogue with the Arab and Muslim world. Present in several States in the region, close political foundations of the major German parties play an important role in this effort of dialogue with all of the local political movements.
Currently, the migration crisis and the situation in the Middle East do concern jointly Turkey (first host country of refugees, with 2.5 million) and Germany, (first host of the European Union). Dialogue around this issue, for which Germany is quite involved, was to find an agreement between the European Union and Turkey, which aims to permanently reduce the number of people seeking asylum in Europe. Based on three central pillars (bilateral trade rooms, Germany Trade and Invest Agency, and economic counsellors of embassies), economic diplomacy conducted by Berlin translates into a strong attention paid to large emerging countries.
Largest economy in the European Union, Germany is a federal State consisting of 16 Länder account about 82 million inhabitants to 01 January 2016 with demographic projections of 72.2 million in 2030 explaining its immigration target with a + 1.4 million migratory balance policy (2015) where the Turks represent in 2015, 9.1 million or 11.1 percent of the total population.
This may put into question its economic dynamism and eventually expose it as a result its open economy to international uncertainties including the protectionist threat of the new American president, the British Exit from the EU and the current fragility of China. Its Gross Domestic Product in 2015 was € 3026.6 billion, with a Per Capita GDP of € 37,107 with an unemployment rate of 5.0% (2015) and 4.5% for 2016, with an annual average inflation rate to 0.1% for 2015.
Meanwhile Germany continues for several years its fiscal policy that is marked by the desire to reduce debt and public deficits, in accordance with objectives set by European treaties. Public debt amounted to € 2150 billion at the end of year 2015 (71.2% of GDP) and 69.2% (2016). The Bundestag has adopted on November 25, 2016 a Federal budget for 2017 and plan for its 2018-2020 program a budget that will be balanced on the whole of the period.
The 2017 federal budget spending is € 329.1 billion, representing an increase of € 12.1 billion compared to 2016.
Tax revenues are planned at € 301.03 billion. According to the multi-annual programming of the Bund, the federal budget should be balanced and should continue to be as such on the whole of the budgetary program of 2018 to 2020 period.
Industry, which represents a significant share of GDP remained almost stable for 20 years (25.7% in 2016 and 23.0% in 1994). Agriculture represents 0.9%, industry 28.2% and services based on new technologies 72%.
German GDP grew by 4.1% in 2010, from 3.7% in 2011, 0.5% in 2012, 0.5% in 2013, 1.6% in 2014, 1.7% in 2015, and 1.9% in 2016. Highly internationalised companies, exports represent 39% of the GDP in 2015. World Trade Organisation ranked the country in 2015 as the third largest global exporter, behind China and the United States. The density of its fabric of medium and intermediate-sized companies (the “Mittelstand”) innovative and export
Literally champion of the world for exports, Germany has with a trade surplus in current accounts at $ 297 billion for 2016 before China’s $ 245 billion, according to a study by the IFO economic Institute, while in 2015, the balance of payments surplus of China totalled $ 293 billion and that of Germany was $ 257 billion and the United States run a deficit of $ 478 billion.
For 2015, its main customers were: United States (9.5%), France (8.6%), United Kingdom (7.5%), Netherlands (6.6%), China (5.9%), Italy and Austria (4.8%) and suppliers (2015): China (9.7%), Netherlands (9.3%), China (9.7%), Netherlands (9.3%), France (7.1%), United States (6.3%), Italy (5.3%)
What prospects for cooperation?
According to the Secretary of State at Germany’s Ministry of Economy and Energy and co-Chair of the economic joint commission, Germany and Algeria since its independence had good relations of friendship, and I quote him :
“We are aware of the political importance of Algeria in the Arab world and Africa. Algeria is a major and reliable political partner of Europe, for example in the areas of security, regional stability and our common fight against terrorism which are the subject of a close and trusting cooperation between our countries since many years. In addition, Algeria is one of the largest national economies in Africa. It is located at the interface of the Western world, of the Eastern world and the African world, and connects, because of its geographical location, the markets of Europe, Africa and the Arab world.”
Algeria at current prices Gross Domestic Product according to the World Bank was for 2015 at $ 214 billion, with as at January 1st, 2016 a population of 40.4 million inhabitants and an economy that directly and indirectly relies on hydrocarbon exports for 97 / 98% of its foreign exchange earnings.
The volume of bilateral trade between Algeria and Germany recorded in 2014 about € 5.1 billion and no significant change between 2015 and 2016. Germany imported from Algeria for an amount of € 2.5 billion (mainly oil) and exported at a cost of about € 2.6 billion to Algeria. According to Reuters News Agency and the information site “Deutsche Welle”, there was a signing of a major contract of armament between Algeria and Germany (to be confirmed) and exports in armament of Germany destined for Algeria would have reached during the period of January to September 2016 over € 4,029 billion.
In 2015, the bulk of the external trade of Algeria remained focused on its traditional partners such as China with $ 8.22 billion, France $ 5.42, Italy with $ 4.82, Spain with $ 3.93 and Germany $ 3.38 billion. In the first eleven months of 2016, Algerian Customs data show $ 42,78 billion for imports of goods, services not included.
Italy preserved its traditional first customer position of Algeria’s in the first eleven months in 2016, by absorbing $ 4.41 billion of exports, or 17.24% of Algerian overall exports during this period. It was followed by Spain, France and the United States, as well as by Canada that have imported for respective amounts of $ 3.24 billion (12.67%), $ 2.95 billion (11.53%), $ 2.79 billion (10.9%) and $ 1.25 billion (4.91%). Paradoxically Germany does not show in this section of the Algerian exports for these seem not exactly high enough to be classed within it.
In terms of imports, China remains at the top of the supplying countries of Algeria with $ 7.7 billion representing 18.01% of imports overall Algerian between January and November. France with $ 4.37 billion (10.22%), followed by Italy with $ 4.26 billion (9.96%), Spain with $ 3.29 billion (7.71%) and Germany with $ 2.7 billion (6.34%).
So what are these prospects for the Algero-German cooperation?
Several areas of cooperation have been identified, but the main hurdle would be that most German operators appear not to be attracted by investments in Algeria, for at least as long as the regulatory framework is really not in their favour. According to numerous statements of many German operators and government agencies, the Algerian rule 51/49 share ownership split, that is applied to foreign investments, with total disregard for either strategic or non-strategic sectors would be the main culprit for all potential German investors including SMIs/SMEs like from many other countries to stay away from Algeria.
However some 4400 family-run companies in Germany form the backbone of the German economy, not to mention an Algerian diaspora evaluated to approximate 30,000 in Germany, are rather “well integrated”. According to German data, about 220 German companies are located in Algeria and employ around 2000 people, operating in different sectors of activity such like energy, services, hydraulics, transport and construction technology and the development of renewable energy in which Germany has a great experience. Algeria import essentially mechanical, electric, steel, equipment vehicles and chemical products and fats from Germany.
Algerian exports are, conversely, made up mainly of hydrocarbons (oil and gas) and derivatives. Despite this minimal trading far below the potential, the ‘shared’ political of the two capitals and their economic and geostrategic interests, remain, despite the world economic and financial crisis, in support of the strengthening of all economic exchanges and bilateral cooperation in all sectors. The main objective is to strengthen the partnership, while studying the economic market of the two countries to seek opportunities of cooperation so as to increase trade and bilateral cooperation especially in the sector of energy (solar, wind, and solar) and technologies.
Algeria, prioritised for next years, despite the existence of several other options, resourcing of renewable energy whilst pursuing at the same time win/win partnership with Germany for an integration and advancement of technological and managerial know-how of Algerians, with the aim to concluding contracts of cooperation with Algerian companies in all sectors including those channels where Algeria has a global comparative advantage to use its international business networks.
In conclusion, Germans that generally have no historical precedent with Algeria, as of their well-reputed pragmatic attitudes and well-known frankness did recently approach the Algerian Government confirming that their readiness to intensify cooperation, was it not for those recent Government measures of Algeria. These were qualified as being counterproductive, administrative in their outlook whereas what is required should focus as the economic reference of the currency exchange balance as well as the accumulation of organisational and technological knowledge. The Algerian economy predominantly bureaucratic and rentier economy that produces the informal sphere could do with a financial and socio-educational reform, in addition to the lifting of the land system. And it is up to the Algerians to remove those obstacles for the good implementation of the business, assuming of deep structural reforms, good governance and a visibility and coherence of socio-economic policies of the Government. It is under these reservations, that any Algero-German cooperation could be and intensify in the context of mutual respect.
Updated on February 22, 2017.
The planned visit to Algiers was put off at the request of the Algerians, the German government spokesman said.
“The Algerian government asked at short notice for it to be postponed, the federal chancellor complied with this wish.”