Following U.S. independence from Great Britain, the United States established diplomatic relations with first the Kingdom of Prussia in 1797, then the German Empire in 1871. U.S.-German relations were terminated in 1917 during World War I, and the United States declared war on Germany. Relations were reestablished in 1921, but were severed again in 1941 during World War II when Nazi Germany declared war on the United States. After the war, Germany was divided into four zones occupied by Allied powers; Berlin also was divided. In 1955, the United States established diplomatic relations with West Germany, which had been created out of the U.S., British, and French zones. The United States established diplomatic relations in 1974 with East Germany, which had been created from the Soviet Union’s zone. West Germany and East Germany were unified in 1990.
The United States is committed to preserving peace and security in Europe, and U.S.-German relations have been a focal point of U.S. involvement in Europe since the end of World War II. Most recently, the United States and Germany have been working closely together to counter Russian aggression in Ukraine. Germany stands at the center of European affairs and is a key partner in U.S. relations with Europeans in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union. U.S. policy toward Germany is to preserve and consolidate a close and vital relationship with Germany, not only as friends and trading partners, but also as allies sharing common institutions. The United States recognizes that the security and prosperity of the United States and Germany significantly depend on each other. The bilateral political, economic, and security relationships are based on close consultation and coordination at the most senior levels, and the United States and Germany cooperate actively in international forums.
As allies in NATO, the United States and Germany work side by side to maintain peace and freedom. Germany plays an important role in NATO’s core mission of collective defense, serving as a framework nation for the Alliance’s Very High Readiness Joint Taskforce (VJTF). U.S. and German troops work together effectively in NATO and UN operations worldwide due in part to the joint training and capacity-building performed at U.S. military installations in Germany. The two countries have extended their diplomatic cooperation into military cooperation by maintaining peacekeeping efforts in the Balkans and Africa and working together to encourage the evolution of open and democratic states throughout central and eastern Europe. Germany was an integral part of the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan and is a Framework Nation in the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission. German and U.S. maritime forces also are deployed to combat piracy off the Horn of Africa. Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, Germany has been a reliable U.S. ally in efforts against terrorism and combating foreign fighters and is a key member of the counter-ISIL coalition.
U.S. Assistance to Germany
The United States provides no development assistance to Germany.
Bilateral Economic Relations
As two of the world’s leading trading nations, the United States and Germany share a commitment to an open and expanding world economy. Germany is a member of the European Union, and in 2007 was the main driver behind the creation of the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC), a political body that seeks to deepen cooperation between the United States and the European Union by promoting economic growth through increased trade and job creation. Germany and the United States hold regular Informal Commercial Exchange (ICE) Talks to informally address economic issues on a bilateral basis.
In 2015, United States became Germany’s leading export market. In 2014, Germany exported goods worth more than $157 billion to the United States and U.S. exports to Germany totaled $77.8 billion. Germany is the 5th largest U.S. trading partner globally and the United States’ top trading partner in the EU (in 2014).
The U.S. and German trade relationship is driven by massive mutual investment. In 2014, German direct investment in the United States was worth $224 billion, while U.S. direct investment in Germany was worth $116 billion. German investments in the United States focus largely on manufacturing, retail and wholesale, as well as finance and insurance. Altogether, U.S. affiliates of German firms employ over 620,000 American workers.
The U.S.-German Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation affords U.S. investors national treatment and provides for the free movement of capital between the United States and Germany. Taxation of U.S. firms within Germany is governed by a protocol on the avoidance of double taxation.
Germany’s Membership in International Organizations
Germany and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, G-20, G-7, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. Germany also is an observer to the Organization of American States.
Germany maintains an embassy in the United States at 4645 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, DC 20007 (tel. 202-298-4000).
More information about Germany is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:
Department of State Germany Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Germany Page
U.S. Embassy: Germany
History of U.S. Relations With Germany
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Investment Climate Statements
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Export.gov International Offices Page
Library of Congress Country Studies
Travel and Business Information
Source: U.S Department of State
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