German Chamber of Commerce in Austria Organized New Year's Reception 2023 in Graz

More+Events ♦ Published: January 18, 2023; 14:15 ♦ (Vindobona)

After two years of interruption, the traditional joint New Year's reception of the German Chamber of Commerce in Austria (DHK) could finally be held again. The cultivated atmosphere of the auditorium of the Old University of Graz provided the setting for the event, which was attended by around 200 representatives of the Styrian business community.

Anders Indset, Thomas Birtel, Wolfgang Schaller, Christian Jauk and Joachim Schönbeck also joined a panel discussion at the reception. (from left to right) / Picture: © Schelhammer Capital Bank/Werner Krug

Graz and the surrounding area are among the most important regions, also for industry, which is relevant for the German economy. Graz is also highly relevant for German-Austrian economic relations, especially because of many German company branches.

The Honorary Consul of the Federal Republic of Germany for Styria and Carinthia, Joachim Schönbeck, and the Chairman of the Styrian Regional Delegation of the German Chamber of Commerce in Austria (DHK), Christian Jauk, were invited to Graz as the most important guests.

The critical-optimistic tone was set by the chairman of the Styrian regional delegation Christian Jauk, it says in the press release, because "the economic potential between Germany and Austria is great - if only we are let".

As a Styria fan and Styria connoisseur, the German ambassador to Austria, Michael Klor-Berchtold revealed himself in his welcoming speech. From ski tours in Upper Styria to bicycle tours in the wine country, he has completed everything, as he told. Economic cooperation between Germany and Austria is excellent, Berchtold said, mentioning the energy sector in particular. The two countries have agreed with mutual assistance: "Austria helps Germany with its gas storage facility, and our liquid gas terminals are also available to Austria."

The ambassador also stressed that the German government leaves no doubt about its support for Ukraine: "If Russia stopped shooting, there would be peace; if Ukraine stopped defending itself, Ukraine would no longer exist." This, he said, was "the official position of the Federal Republic."

In her opening remarks, Barbara Eibinger-Miedl, Provincial Councillor for Economy, Tourism, Science and Research, was able to point out with self-confidence and visible satisfaction that Styria is the only province with a balanced trade account with Germany, amounting to 7 billion euros. After the difficult departure from nationalized industry in the 1980s, Styria has now also managed to turn around from the dominance of the automotive and supplier industry to become a first-rate research location that also attracts international attention. Styria has the highest research quota of all the federal states. The close cooperation with the state of Hesse is a strong axis to Germany, he said. "And of course, the Germans are our favorite vacation guests".

The appearance of Norwegian-German economic philosopher Anders Indset at DHK's New Year's Reception 2023 in Graz was surprising.

The philosopher loves paradoxes and unusual word creations, from which suggestions and ultimately instructions for action are to emerge. The "action heroes" are the shapers of the future. For example, Indset turns the common wisdom that transparency creates trust around and says, "No, trust creates transparency." Or "love is lack of information." Another hard-to-deny formula: "We don't need a knowledge society, we need a trust society." Interesting the observation that Ukraine is already in a "post-war mentality" planning departure and reconstruction. Cryptic the turn of phrase: "economic sustainability over time, rather than on time."

A favorite thought of Indset's: "We need a different understanding of problems, better problems, so to speak. We need professionalistic amateurs."

Indset's ethical demands on business and society are conventional, but in a sense timeless: a culture of discussion does not arise from differing opinions alone, he says, and that comes only from a behavior change. In contrast to the widespread attitude of viewing work as an unpleasant interruption of leisure time that should be kept as short as possible, Indset advocates education: "People who want to bear responsibility need self-confidence and a high work ethic. Entrepreneurship is essential for the future, he says. "I believe in capitalism."

In a short panel discussion following the keynote, three representatives of the business community had their say: "The situation is better than the mood," noted Joachim Schönbeck, CEO of Andritz AG. The energy turnaround offers many opportunities for the plant industry, he said. Thomas Birtel, the former CEO of Strabag SE, also sees opportunities for the construction industry in the current upheavals, saying that public investment in transport infrastructure and innovative technologies, for example, are "stabilizing elements" for his sector. The panel discussion was moderated by ORF Editor-in-Chief Wolfgang Schaller.

German Chamber of Commerce in Austria