German firms in Russia
Lovers, not fighters
German exporters are pushing back against economic sanctions on Russia
DIPLOMATS wonder if Germany will ever back harsh consequences for Russia over its invasion of Crimea.
Second-world-war history weighs on German decision-making.
But economics does too.
Germany gets about a third of its oil and gas from Russia.
It also sends a lot of its exports of manufactured goods there.
Germany alone accounts for almost a third of the EU's total exports to Russia.
And Russia is Germany's 11th-biggest export market, worth 36 billion last year.
The Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, a lobby group representing big businesses,
says that 300,000 German jobs depend on trade with Russia, 6,200 companies with German owners are active in Russia, and German companies have invested 20 billion there.
No surprise, then, that the committee's boss calls sanctions senseless.
The biggest export industry is cars and motor parts.
Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen have all been pushing into Russia:
though Germany's overall exports to the country fell by 5% last year, the motor industry's sales rose by 22%.
VW is the leader, selling more than 200,000 cars there last year.
In public, the car-industry bosses are guarded,
but it is a fair bet that they have been lobbying their government contacts.
Machines are the second-biggest export sector, with almost 8 billion of sales to Russia in 2013.
That makes it Germany's biggest machine-export market after China, America and France.
Many of the sellers are smallish,
family-owned Mittelstand firms, which would be hit hard if sanctions led to a fall in trade.
Ulrich Ackermann of the German Engineering Federation notes that the country's exports of machinery to Russia,
unlike those of fancy cars, go back to Soviet days.
Many Mittelstandcompanies are not big enough to ride out a prolonged conflict.
Like other industry representatives, Mr Ackermann is careful to avoid implying that industrialists should make foreign policy.
But he goes on to say that we don't have any examples of sanctions achieving what politicians wanted.
Since Russia mainly exports energy and imports finished goods, energy-intensive German industrial exporters would be hit twice by any fall in trade.
Chemicals is the third-biggest export sector to Russia, worth 3.2 billion last year.
BASF, a chemicals giant, uses Russian gas as both an energy source and a feedstock;
in turn it sold 1.4 billion of its 74 billion total sales in 2013 to customers based in Russia.
To insulate itself from rising power prices, BASF generates a lot of its own electricity at its enormous complex in Ludwigshafen,
in south-western Germany. But it does so with gas turbines.
Companies with operations on the ground in Russia are especially nervous.
Metro, a hypermarket operator with a daughter, Media Markt, that sells electronics, had sales of 5.3 billion in Russia last year.
It has been preparing to float a stake in its Russian cash-and-carry operation on the London stockmarket,
but its plan will probably now have to be postponed, if not cancelled.
Many German manufacturers, such as Siemens, which builds locomotives for the Russian state railway, have plants in Russia.
A law being considered in Russia's parliament to allow the expropriation of foreign firms' assets may be a bluff,
but it is a scary one for those with big, immovable investments there.
Anton Brner of the Federation of German Wholesale, Foreign Trade and Services, another industry group,
says that whereas a shutdown in trade would be painful for Germany, it would be existentially threatening for Russia, which would feel the impact immediately.
German gas-reserve tanks are full with several months' supply.
Nevertheless, Mr Brner, like the leaders of other business federations, calls for an urgent de-escalation rather than sanctions, arguing that Putin is part of the solution.
His member companies call him daily with their worries. He tells them Be prepared.
This is going to get difficult.
But not if he and other German business lobbyists get their way.
1.push back 使撤退，使回到原处
America's strategists will push back in 2011.
I push back our meeting to 27 may?
2.weigh on 重压于；压在心头
Excessive fiscal restraint has also begun to weigh on europe's core.
It is a future of mounting debt that comes to weigh on the present.
3.export to 出口
Do you export to any other european countries?
It started producing chopsticks for export to china.
4.lead to 通向；导致
That can lead to serious consequences.
All these ideologies lead to repression.