US-Ambassador Emerson in Hamburg

Before starting his keynote at the AmCham New Year’s reception tonight, Ambassador John Emerson made it clear right at the beginning, that contrary to some media reports, no official warning had been issued by the US embassy in Berlin regarding the (now uplifted) “Gefahrengebiete” in Hamburg.

He said: “There‚Äôs a story going around that we are warning American citizens about this city. This is absolutely not true. Last week, we sent out what we call a ‘Security Message’ to American citizens, passing along information we had received from the Hamburg authorities, who are close and reliable friends and partners. This information had already appeared in the press. Unfortunately, our ‘Security Message’ was misunderstood as being a ‘Warning’. This is an example of how ‘stories going around’ can sometimes just get the facts wrong.”

He then returned to greeting the AmCham reception guests and the an overview about the current state of German-American partnership. A topic that occupied him from the beginning of his term in Autust 2013 was of course the debate about NSA revelations. He was and still is moderating between parties and he has communicated the German reactions back to Washington. He is convinced that intelligence programs need to be carefully monitored and controlled, but he also added that “we need to be clear-eyed about the threats we face from terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and cyber warfare. The reality is that since 9/11, the efforts of our collaborative intelligence gathering efforts have thwarted numerous terrorist attacks, including some on German soil.”

Above all, he pleaded not to allow this issue to distract from the challenges ahead. With the upcoming EU elections, advocating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) was more important than ever, Ambassador Emerson said. If successful, this will become a gold standard for all future trade agreements. The T-TIP has the potential to benefit all businesses as well as consumers and employees, and especially the smaller “Mittelstand” companies that now have greater difficulties to deal with complicated regulations on both sides of the Atlantic.

Nancy L. Corbett, US General Consul in Hamburg had opened the evening and welcomed 120 guests from various industries, politics and media to the “Little White House” at the Alster. Host of the evening was Dr. Henning Schneider, Chairman of the Northern Germany Chapter of AmCham and host of the evening.

Nicholas Teller, vice president of AmCham Germany and CEO of E.R. Capital Holding, mentioned the close economic, but also cultural and political relationship between Germany and the US. The biggest challenges for the new year he sees on one hand in the T-TIP negotiations which will be crucial for trade and growth for both the EU and the US, and in improving the conditions for industrial growth in Germany.

About AmCham: The American Chamber of Commerce in Germany represents the member interests in Berlin, Brussels and Washington. The Northern Germany Chapter comprehends the northern states of Hamburg, Bremen, Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Hostein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.