The odd couple: Merkel and Trump

The odd couple: Merkel and Trump

Update: this meeting has been delayed to Friday due to a storm about to hit Washington Angela Merkel and Donald

Photo: Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin

Photo: Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin

Update: this meeting has been delayed to Friday due to a storm about to hit Washington

Angela Merkel and Donald Trump couldn’t be less alike, but on Tuesday this odd couple will meet to lay the foundation for a crucial relationship.

Mr Trump puts high stock in personal connections with world leaders. Acutely aware of this, the veteran German will seek to put aside their differences to craft a strong working relationship with America’s new president. Whether Trump will play along is another question entirely.

Discussions are expected to focus heavily on trade. Trump has been outspoken about combatting the country’s trade deficit with Germany, which comes in at $65 billion a year. The administration has previously suggested a 35% tax on German cars. The implementation of this policy would be disastrous and could result in tit-for-tat measures that neither country can afford.

With around half of all German jobs reliant on exports, Ms Merkel is in a particularly difficult situation; she must both win over her counterpart and stand up for German interests. Merkel will be accompanied by the chiefs of BMW and Siemens – two of Germany’s largest companies – who are expected to lay out their plans to hire and invest more in the States.

Given the high stakes and opposing personalities, it’s little wonder Der Spiegel is calling Tuesday’s talks the “the most difficult meeting Merkel has ever faced”.