Being Stressed in the West

The West Coast is ignored by Berlin

Guest post by Ekkehard Goetting, Vice-President of the German Canadian Business Association in Vancouver.

The Canadian continent as far as Germany is concerned is ruled from Toronto and Ottawa with very limited knowledge of the West. Canadians themselves are suffering from this syndrome for decades. 

For Germany, a generally insignificant partner in general, Canada on and off gains the status of “flavour of the month” when a global crisis arises, or primarily resource-based economies, such as Canada gain importance in shifting global interests. 

As a result, the “West” with its vast resources, became important to Germany during the 80’s energy crises, with the Minister at the time, Graf Lambsdorff, regularly visiting the Consul General in Edmonton, which had a Chamber Office and 18% of the population in Alberta of German descent.

We are back at it again, following years of ambiguity, the new flavours of green hydrogen, fuel cell technology, clean resources and a “pacific nation” (gaining importance in Indo Pacific Strategies) now being relevant to Germany. 

At the same time, Vancouver no longer has a German Chamber of Commerce presence, no more Goethe institute, which are, next to a strong Consulate, the very basic support infrastructures to retain and possibly expand interest in German Business, Culture, Language.

Exchange and complete reliance on a very much detached Eastern Canadian interest and also under complete ignorance of the existence of a German Community – generations struggling to maintain a relevance within an ever-changing society – as western Canadian businesses and society are becoming ever more diversified, it will need recurring flavours of the month to keep us on the radar of German interests.

This is completely contrary to everything I have ever learned on building relationships that can withstand ups and downs.  global alignments, etc. 

If we, German groups and interests in western Canada want to get anywhere, Ottawa, Toronto and Berlin, should be put on notice that, the decline of support of structures and institutions directed under local guidance and input cannot possibly be in Germany’s long-term interest. 

By the way, our American counterparts are suffering the same fate.

New York rules, but with IT and AI on the radar for Germany the American West is the now the flavour of the month. Our infrastructure there? A five-person office in SF is responsible for everything in business for the entire West Coast plus southwest states.

At least, next to the Consulates, there is a sponsored German business presence, as opposed to Canada, where volunteers are working hard to salvage a bit of a German Canadian business group and network. Interesting to note also that, the Steinmeier visit so far has not even been worth mentioning on Canada’s national news network evening summaries. 

elke porter
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