Desert Bloom

The Middle East: An Oasis for German Exports

Middle East Wintershall Seele
An oil pipeline belonging to the Wintershall company in Libya, photographed in 2011.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Oil, construction, pharmaceutical and food industries could profit by filling the region’s need for German technology.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • The assessment came from Rainer Seele, chairman of Germany’s biggest oil and gas producer and also chair of the Near and Middle East Club of the German Economy.
    • The mostly oil-rich states are Germany’s third most important trading partner outside Europe, after the United States and China.
    • The conflict in Iraq won’t greatly increase the price of crude oil, he said.
  • Audio

    Audio

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As chairman of Germany’s biggest oil and gas producer, Rainer Seele has seen it all. Wintershall has production facilities not just in political oases such as Norway and Great Britain but also in Libya – despite all the wartime imponderables, both before and after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.

But even hardened entrepreneurs can hardly fail to be overwhelmed by the concentration of war and conflicts in the region. In view of the conflict in the Gaza Strip and the advance of the Islamic State, Mr. Seele said, “I cannot imagine many colleagues summoning up the entrepreneurial courage to increase their investments in these countries.”

Mr. Seele was in Berlin on Monday, not as boss of Wintershall, but as chairman of the Near and Middle East Club of the German Economy, to give his evaluation of this crisis-torn, neighboring region of Europe.  Mr. Seele told it the way it was. Why shouldn’t he? After all, the wars and conflicts affect the economy too. Volker Treier, the German Chamber of Commerce’s head of foreign trade, said, “Confidence can hardly be built  in such times, German companies are holding back with investments or are even leaving the site locations.”

However, Mr. Seele warned about writing off the entire region: The Near and Middle East offers “enormous potential for the German economy.” Like many other experts, he called for a differentiated approach to the Arab world.

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