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zealously applied, complicate access to the market for many U.S. products.
The new German packaging law which will be phased in by 1995 presents considerable requirements that will make exporting and production in Germany far more complicated not only for the U.S. but also for Germany's fellow EC members. The law will require all containers to be either reused or recycled. The law presents additional burdens for exporters whose goods are transported over long distances since containers built for long distances are more difficult to recycle and reuse. The U.S. government will continue to seek consultations on this with the German government and the EC.
Government Procurement Practices: German government procurement is non-discriminatory and appears to comply with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) on Government Procurement. It is, nonetheless, difficult to compete head-to-head with major German suppliers who have long-term ties to German government purchasing entities. Those areas which fall outside of the GATT Code's coverage, such as some military procurement, purchases by the Transportation Ministry, or procurement of services, are the most susceptible to these problems.
Investment Barriers: The German investment climate is very open, but some of the concerns mentioned above, such as access to services markets and standards and procurement questions also apply to investment. In addition, there is a lack of transparency in negotiating contracts for privatization of firms formerly belonging to the Communist regime of the GDR.
Germany views itself as an advocate of free trade, while simultaneously supporting inefficient industries. Of particular interest are the subsidies provided to agriculture and to the German aerospace industry: Germany can play a pivotal role in European Community (EC) attitudes toward agricultural subsidies in the final months of the Uruguay Round of GATT trade negotiations. Airbus subsidies are still a point of contention, particularly the exchange-rate guarantee scheme with which the German government persuaded Daimler Benz to purchase Messerschmidt-Boelkow-Bloehm. As a general matter, the need to devote funding to projects in eastern Germany during the coming year may do far more than anything else to force reductions in subsidies provided in western Germany.
Protection of U.S. Intellectual Property
Germany is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization and party to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, the Universal Copyright Convention, the Geneva Phonograms Convention, the Patent Cooperation Treaty, and the Brussels Satellite Convention.
Intellectual property is generally well protected in Germany. The German Patent Bureau, Verwertungsgesellschaft (which handles printed material), and GEMA (the German rough-equivalent to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) are the agencies responsible for intellectual property protection. U.S. citizens and firms are entitled to national treatment in Germany.
Although the Germany passed a law to strengthen protection of intellectual property and to toughen penalties for product piracy on July 1, 1990, there remain some areas in which the United States seeks stronger German protection. One key area is copyright protection for computer software. While German law explicitly protects computer programs, judicial interpretations appear to have undermined the effective level of protection. Under several court decisions, only programs that demonstrate a level of originality beyond the skills of an ordinary programmer are protected. As a result, many business application programs are not eligible for protection under German law. Germany is on the Watch List under the "Special 301" IPR provisions of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988.
The Ministry of Justice is currently working on draft legislation to transpose the EC Software Copyright Directive into national law, which will effectively lower the current German standard for originality. The Ministry plans to circulate a draft to industry and interested parties for comment, obtain Federal Cabinet approval, and then, within the first half of 1992, forward it to Parliament for consideration. Ministry officials believe that, once this process has been completed, U.S. concerns will have been addressed.
Following the unification of Germany, the Ministry of Justice is working on draft legislation to allow mutual extension of patent rights existing in the former West and East German territories, with proposals for resolution of potential conflicts. That draft is currently being reviewed by the Parliament, and Ministry officials expect passage of the legislation in early 1992.
The Constitution guarantees full freedom of association. The right to strike is guaranteed, except for civil servants, teachers, the armed forces and those in sensitive positions. In 1991 the ILO criticized the Government's broad definition of "essential services."
b. Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
The right to organize and bargain collectively is guaranteed by the Constitution and is widely practiced. No Government mechanism to promote voluntary worker-employer negotiations is required because of a well-developed system of autonomous contract negotiations, now extended to the eastern states. There is a two-tiered bargaining system, whereby
basic wages and working conditions are established at the industry level and then adapted to the circumstances prevailing in particular enterprises through local negotiations. A distinguishing characteristic of German industrial relations is the legally mandated system of works councils which provide a permanent forum for continuing selective worker participation in the management of the enterprise. Workers are fully protected against antiunion discrimination.
Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
Forced or compulsory labor is barred by the Constitution and is nonexistent in practice.
Minimum Age for Employment of Children
German legislation in general bars child labor under age 15. There are limited exemptions for children employed on family farms, delivering newspapers or magazines, or involved in theater or sporting events.
While there is no minimum wage, 90 percent of all wage and salary earners are covered by legally enforceable collective bargaining agreements. The average workweek is regulated by contracts directly or indirectly affecting 80 percent of the working population. The average in the West is 37.6 hours and about 40 hours in the East. German labor and social legislation is comprehensive and, in general, imposes strict occupational safety and health standards. The resulting standards are widely considered to be very high. There is also a mandatory occupational accident and health insurance system for all employed persons.
Rights in Sectors with U.S. Investment
The enforcement of German labor and social legislation is strict, and applies to all firms and activities, including those in which u.s. capital is invested. Employers are required to contribute to the various mandatory social insurance programs.
Disputes over worker rights can be referred to a complex system of labor and social courts at the local, state and federal level. The labor courts deal with labor-management issues, employer-employee disputes (such as dismissals) and all matters concerning the works constitution and codetermination laws. This system is supplemented by social courts that deal with the entire field of social legislation.
U.S. Department of Commerce, Survey of Current Business
53-153 0 - 92 - 10
Key Economic Indicators
(Billions of Drachmas (Dr) Unless otherwise noted)
1/ Interest rate on long term loans to industry. 27 Settlement basis. 37 Greek customs data. 1991 data are embassy estimates based on January-September 1991 data. 41 Aug 1991. Sources: Bank of Greece, National Statistical Service of Greece, Ministry of National Economy, and Embassy estimates.