Gambling with customs duties

Winners and losers in the game of the powerful

ZDF-Zoom reportage (2019)

“America first”, punitive tariffs against China and Germany. Almost every day, US President Trump speaks out and turns the supposedly valid rules of free trade. If Germany continues like this, “we will impose tariffs of 25% on their cars, and believe me, they will stop”, Trump announces. What is Trump’s trade war doing to Germany? “America first” – that sounds absurd to entrepreneur Sönke Winterhager from Freital in Saxony: his steel group Boschgotthardshütte produces around 200,000 tons of stainless steel every year – and every tenth ton goes to the USA. Since spring 2018, this has been punished with a whopping 25 percent import duty. However, the USA cannot do without the high-quality “Saxony steel”.

Kersten Schüßler travels to where the Saxon steel is needed – to the “rust belt” of the USA. There, fitter Scott F. Chittohk firmly believed that Trump’s tariffs could make a difference to the sometimes brutal laws of free trade.

Europe also often acts according to its own interests. This is clear from the example of Ghana. For a long time, the West African country was allowed to protect itself from cheap imports from mighty Europe. But then the EU, and therefore also Germany, demanded that Ghana drop its tariffs if it wanted to continue exporting its cocoa to the EU.

Author: Kersten Schüßler

camera: Ulf Behrens

editing: Rainer Speidel

editor: Paul Amberg (ZDF)