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Last Updated:  Thursday, 6 March, 2003, 18:08 GMT
Tiny German firm feels US anger
Lederett
The German firm depends on exports
A tiny eastern German leather goods maker has become the first company to be boycotted because of Germany's opposition to war against Iraq.

US company Enefco International said it would no longer buy leather products from German firm Lederett, apparently because of political differences.

Lederett was informed last week in a letter from Enefco owner Norman Farrar.

We ask the German Government to modify its anti-war stance in the case of Iraq for the protection of German industry
Grit Kuhn, Lederett

In turn, Lederett chief executive Grit Kuhn has written to German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder appealing to him to change his position on Iraq.

After France, the US is Germany's biggest trading partner, with trade worth 113bn euros (77.4bn) a year.

German-American friendship

Ms Kuhn said Enefco's business was worth 46,000 euros annually to the firm, which employs 46 people.

Ms Kuhn effectively accused Mr Schroeder of sacrificing the German-American friendship "on the altar of short-term political success."

The prime reason for this decision is due to the lack of support for the US by the Federal Republic of Germany
Norman Farrar, Enefco

"We ask the German Government to modify its anti-war stance in the case of Iraq for the protection of German industry," she said in a letter.

Mr Farrar said in a letter dated 18 February he was calling off all business with Lederett in spite of being pleased with the quality, service and price.

"The prime reason for this decision is due to the lack of support for the US by the Federal Republic of Germany," Mr Farrar wrote.

But when asked by BBC News Online if Enefco believed their decision would alter Mr Schroeder's stance on Iraq, the firm refused to comment.

Not worried

This is just one company. Here in America, business and politics do not really mix
German-American Chamber of Commerce

The German-American Chamber of Commerce in New York said it was not worried about the boycott.

"This is just one company. Here in America, business and politics do not really mix. The bigger firms have all said Germany's stance would not affect business," a spokeswoman told BBC News Online.

The Chamber recently surveyed 415 companies and only three small ones said German politics would affect business in a negative way.

Concerns about the deterioration of the US-German relationship led to a two-day meeting last month in Bonn of German and American business and political leaders.

The meeting was confident that any fallout would be limited.

Future fears

But Ms Kuhn was not so sure.

She feared for the future of the sixty-year-old firm, noting that 90% of its production was export-oriented.

"We do not know how many similar reactions German industry must experience," she said.

"However, we are sure that the German government would react if, for example, the automotive industry was similarly affected."

Meanwhile, the German standpoint on Iraq showed no signs of change when Germany - along with France and Russia - said on Wednesday it would not allow passage of a UN resolution to authorise war against Iraq.


SEE ALSO:
Straw warns against isolating US
10 Mar 03 |  Politics
Germany halts aid to Turkey
27 Feb 03 |  Europe
Europe's Iraq splits laid bare
26 Feb 03 |  Europe
Dane bans tourists over Iraq
25 Feb 03 |  Europe


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