by Prof Dr Eberhard Hamer
The SME economy has always pointed out that small and medium-sized entrepreneurs are usually true to their home countries, location-based. This already becomes apparent when you look at their family ties and the domestic character of a medium-sized personnel company.
The large corporations, on the other hand, have long been international. They not only produce world-wide, have suppliers the world over, but also have shareholders from all over the world. According to estimates of the Mittelstandsinstitut (SME Institute) of Lower Saxony, more than 70% of our DAX companies are predominantly foreign-owned, mostly American. A group controlled by a foreign country no longer has a national bond, has no home, demands globalisation and free trade, and above all, freedom of capital, including tax savings through tax havens.
We owe our export surpluses to the international trade of these global corporations. These surpluses, on the other hand, can only be achieved by the fact that we have had or still have important technical advantages in growth industries – mostly publicly subsidised. If we lose such a technical lead, we lose not only our export capability but also a part of our prosperity.
In this sense, the technological growth drivers of our international corporations are extremely dangerous not only as seen from the ownership structure of a capital company, but also because of their dependence on foreign powers such as the USA or China:
- In Germany it is less possible than in other countries to keep technical advantages a secret and in reserve, because the Americans, according to the laws made by the occupation forces, have the right to control all our digital and computer systems, including all telephone lines and cell phones in Germany, comprehensively and exhaustively. Thus, they can immediately pick up any new technology developed within our country through their spy systems and transfer it to their local industry. Often, therefore, the competing American industry knows about new patent developments even before a patent has been granted in our country.
- Where this total espionage is not sufficient, technical innovations are stolen by financial and bribery tricks, such as in the location-safe submarine technology of the Howaldt shipyard, where an unloyal board, with the approval of the federal government, allegedly accepted American takeover requests by handing over all plans and technical internals, until the Americans had everything and were no longer interested in the shipyard itself.
- How dangerous a shift of German production abroad is, was experienced by the photo industry decades ago. In the fifties and sixties, Germany was the world leader in photo cameras. Then production was shifted to Asia “because of the cheaper labour force” and only sold in Germany, until the Japanese competition made more attractive offers of the German models on the world market than we ourselves did, and so they seized the market leadership. Today, we buy Asian cameras instead of German ones.
- After the US and Japan, China is now the big technology plagiariser. The Chinese have more than 3 trillion dollar assets, for which they are unlikely to get anything any more if they do not switch to some tangible assets in good time. They therefore buy everything they can get all around the world, especially technology – at any price.
- They cannot shop in the US, because the US has a security veto right which it is constantly exercising. It is true that there is such a national security reserve in Germany as well, but it is never used, because our globalisation-addicted federal government would see this as an “international trade restriction”. In this way, the Chinese are able to buy high-technology in Germany without hindrance.
- An example of the sell-out of German technology is the acquisition of the majority of the shares of the world-leading robot company Kuka in Augsburg. This has reached its rank as a world leader with the aid of a lot of German subsidies. Now that it is Chinese, Kuka’s production technology is lost to Germany and is systematically relocated to China. Within a few years already, we will be buying robots from China, which will not bring us an export surplus, but export deficits.
- The German automobile companies, too, were first exporting to China; they were then forced to build their own production facilities in China, thus bringing German technology to Chinese companies. In the next few years they will be able to export less and less of their domestic products against the competition of these companies, and will therefore lose the export market.
- The worst example is Airbus. This aviation group, which is highly subsidised by us, has – supposedly to gain a foothold in the Chinese market – delivered to the Chinese its own production potential of airbus machines, so that today, the Chinese are already able to build their own competitor machines to Airbus in their own companies, using Airbus technology. There are no powers of imagination necessary to predict that in 10 years Airbus will no longer be able to deliver to China, because Chinese airbus companies will be dominating the market.
- Last message: Siemens, too, sees the digital future first and foremost in China, and is moving its global research center for autonomous robots to China. It is only logical that after the withdrawal of the Kuka robot control, Siemens cannot keep its world-leading robotics research without a domestic production application either, but instead places its future research in the country which has, among other things, acquired the robot technology.
In all cases the German tax payer has massively subsidised the future technologies, especially with the taxes of the small and medium enterprises and the middle class, and then the international corporations have transferred the results of these subsidies and of German technology abroad, sold them or even given them free of charge.
The Federal Government sees this as a “normal internationalisation process” and does not intervene. On the other hand, SME research sees the migration of advanced technologies subsidised by German tax payers as the cause for the concurrent migration of thousands of medium-sized companies in the supply market and so for the loss of the international competitive ability of the German economy as a whole, in the coming years.
Why is the federal government so passive when it comes to the migration of German top technology?
Why are the international corporations not obliged to repay the subsidies received by the German taxpayer for the development of the cutting-edge technologies when they export these technologies abroad?
Why is there no outcry from politics, middle-class economies and trade unions when our cutting-edge technology moves to the USA or China, thus drying up high-tech jobs? •
Literature: Hamer, Eberhard (Ed.). Visionen 2050, Rottenburg 2016
(Translation Current Concerns)