U.S. Relations With Germany
More information about Germany is available on the Germany Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.
Following U.S. independence from Great Britain, the United States established the first Consulate on German soil in Hamburg in June 1790, and the second one in Bremen in 1794, both independent German states at the time. The United States established diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Prussia in 1797, then the German Empire in 1871. U.S.-German relations were terminated in 1917 during World War I, and the United States declared war on Germany. Relations were reestablished in 1921, but were severed again in 1941 during World War II when Nazi Germany declared war on the United States. After the war, Germany was divided into four zones occupied by Allied powers; Berlin also was divided. In 1955, the United States established diplomatic relations with West Germany, which had been created out of the U.S., British, and French zones. The United States established diplomatic relations in 1974 with East Germany, which had been created from the Soviet Union's zone. West Germany and East Germany were unified in 1990.
Germany is one of the United States’ closest and strongest allies in Europe. U.S. relations with Germany are based on our close and vital relationship as friends, trading partners, and allies sharing common institutions. Our political, economic, and security relationships, critical to shared prosperity and continued stability, are based on extensive people-to-people ties and close coordination at the most senior levels. Most recently, the United States and Germany have been working closely together to counter Russia’s destabilizing activities and to negotiate a political solution to the crisis in Syria.
In the political sphere, Germany stands at the center of European affairs and plays a key leadership role as a member of the G-7, G-20, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The United States recognizes that the security and prosperity of the United States and Germany significantly depend on each other. As allies in NATO, the United States and Germany work side by side to maintain peace and freedom. Germany plays an important role in NATO’s core mission of collective defense, serving as a framework nation for NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence. U.S. and German troops work together effectively in NATO and UN operations worldwide due in part to the joint training and capacity-building performed at U.S. military installations in Germany. The two countries have extended their diplomatic cooperation into military cooperation by maintaining peacekeeping efforts in the Balkans and Africa, and working together to encourage the evolution of open and democratic states throughout central and Eastern Europe. Germany was an integral part of the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan and is a Framework Nation in the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission. German and U.S. maritime forces also are deployed to combat piracy off the Horn of Africa. Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, Germany has been a reliable U.S. ally in efforts against terrorism and combating foreign fighters.
U.S. Assistance to Germany
The United States provides no development assistance to Germany.
Bilateral Economic Relations
EU Member States are collectively the United States’ biggest trading partner, and Germany, as Europe’s largest economy, is at the heart of that relationship. After China and the United States, Germany is the world’s third-largest exporter. Every fourth job in Germany depends on exports, which accounted for 38.5% of Germany’s GDP in 2016 (three times the export share of U.S. GDP).
In 2017, bilateral trade in goods and services totaled nearly $238 billion, with U.S. exports of $85 billion and imports of $153 billion. Most of the $68 billion trade deficit in 2017 was in goods; bilateral trade in services ($66 billion in 2017) is roughly in balance, with a U.S. deficit of $3 billion (up 73% from 2016 but in line with historic norms). Major U.S. export categories to Germany in 2016 (latest data available) were vehicles ($7.6 billion), optical and medical instruments ($6.1 billion), machinery ($6.1 billion), aircraft ($6.0 billion), and electrical machinery ($4.8 billion). Major categories of German exports to the United States in 2016 were vehicles ($29.0 billion), machinery ($23.0 billion), pharmaceuticals ($13.0 billion), optical and medical instruments ($9.0 billion), and electrical machinery ($7.8 billion). Many U.S. imports from Germany are high-end investment goods such as capital equipment, making possible U.S. production and exports. German investments in the United States focus largely on manufacturing and wholesale, as well as finance and insurance. Altogether, U.S. affiliates of German firms employ over 670,000 American workers. Together, our companies represent over one million jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.
The U.S.-German Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation affords U.S. investors national treatment and provides for the free movement of capital between the United States and Germany. Taxation of U.S. firms within Germany is governed by a protocol on the avoidance of double taxation.
Germany's Membership in International Organizations
Germany and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, G-20, G-7, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. Germany also is an observer to the Organization of American States.
Germany maintains an embassy in the United States at 4645 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, DC 20007 (tel. 202-298-4000).
More information about Germany is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:
Department of State Germany Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Germany Page
History of U.S. Relations With Germany
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Investment Climate Statements
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Export.gov International Offices Page
Library of Congress Country Studies