German autos association urges Germany to address business confidentiality concerns with China


25th September 2023 – (Berlin) Germany’s influential autos association, the VDA, is set to release a position paper urging the German government to ensure that China respects the confidentiality of business information in its new anti-espionage laws. The paper, seen by Reuters, addresses China’s position as the world’s largest automotive market and serves as a response to the German government’s recently published China strategy.

The VDA, representing major automakers like BMW and Volkswagen, as well as smaller suppliers, commended the government for rejecting the idea of “de-coupling” from China in favour of “de-risking,” which aims to reduce strategic dependencies on China. However, the association cautioned against government intervention in business decisions and instead emphasized the need for support in diversification strategies.

While the government’s strategy acknowledged the importance of free data exchange between China and Germany, the VDA pointed out that it failed to address China’s cybersecurity laws and new anti-spying laws, which prohibit the transfer of any information related to national security and broaden the definition of spying.

The association stated, “We believe the government has the duty also to advocate in Beijing for the confidentiality of business data, to address the issue of the law’s impacts and together to look for a solution.”

Highlighting the importance of fair treatment, the VDA emphasized that any legal reforms aimed at safeguarding German critical infrastructure should not single out specific countries. It cautioned against sending signals of growing investment protectionism, urging Germany to maintain an open and inclusive approach.

At the regional level, the VDA called on the European Commission to respect corporate freedom while developing an outbound investment screening tool. It recommended that state intervention should only occur as a last resort in exceptional cases where serious security issues can be substantiated.