While West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt was telling parliament yesterday that U.S. and West German policies are in agreement, and that published reports to the contrary are wrong, the powerful leader of the German Industry and Trade Council was telling colleagues elsewhere that "complete amateurism" is in full bloom in American economic and monetary policy.
The contrast in the two speeches illustrates West Germany's current difficulties in dealing with the, United States, especially on such economic matters as the rapid decoine in value of the dollar overseas which makes West German goods much more expensive in the United States.
Government leaders in Bonn and Washington in recent days have been trying to patch up, at least publicly, their lingering quarrel over economic affairs before it spills over into a worsening of general relations that neither of the two allies - both of crucial importance to each other - wants.
Yet nothing is really happening in the critical area of stemming the dollar's decline which would alleviate widespread fears in German industry and government.
The chancellor's nationally televised speech yesterday was supposed to have been the annual assessment of relations with East Germany. But concern over the state of U.S. relations was apparently great enough to cause Schmidt to deviate from his original text and devote a large part of his talk at the outset to relations with Washington.
Schmidt said German-American friendship rested on "human ties and a far-reaching identity of political and social values that cannot be changed by temporary variations in currency exchanged rates."
The chancellor said he shared "without any doubt, the opinion of President Carter that the dollar was currently undervalued," that he was "optimistic that the U.S. would succeed in stabilizing international confidence" in the dollar and that adoption by Congress of the energy program would help specially in this respect.
To underline the transatlantic attempt to patch things up, a spokesman for Schmidt disclosed that President Carter telephoned the chancellor yesterday to talk over world political affairs and to relay his full agreement with the views on U.S. German relations expressed by Schmidt in recent days.
The phone call is symbolic of the attempt to put a positive face on things, reflective of a better personal relationship between the two leaders. Over the last several months, when personal as well as official relations soured in many areas, the two had lapsed into sending letters.
[President Carter said in his news conference that in his "long talk"with Schmidt they discussed the dollar's decline. The Treasury Department said later that German and American officials will continue conversations by telephone.]
Schmidt expanded yesterday on points he had made in a speech on U.S. relations last week that went virtually unnoticed here because it was given on Friday night in Hamburg to an East Asian society in the midst of a German newspaper strike.
Stressing the common interest in solving econimic problems, Schmidt said Bonn was in comformity with Washington also on trade and anti-protectionism policy and in trying to solve critical problems between rich and poor nations.
This conformity with the United States, he said, "was quite to the contrary of many newspaper reports" on both sides of the Atlantic.
Several hours earlier, industrialist Otto Wolff von Amerongen told the business council gathering in Cologne just the things that the Bonn government is trying to keep out of official dialogue.
Amerongen is a powerful figure in German industrial circles and, of though a member of the opposition political party, is an occasional adviser to Schmidt with influence in the Bonn chancellory.
Amerongen told his fellow industrialists that in his view Washington's replacement of a currency expert such as Arthur Burns with C. William Miller as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board was "incomprehensible," since Miller "had hardly ever coped with currency problems.
He said U.S. attempts to force the West Germans to further stimulate economic growth in this country were "amateurish" and he went on to put the amateur label on U.S. policy generally.
The uncertain fate of the dollar will remain as long as the Americans fail to act "professionally," he said.
Amerogen is expressing a view that is widespread in German industry, especially the threatened export industries whose products are not much more extensive on the U.S. market because of the almost 20 percent drop in value of the dollar against the mark in recent months.
His remarks got very little attention in the German press, for which Schmidt may be thankful.
The dollar, in fact, rose slightly in value here yesterday.
Nevertheless, the longterm solution is not in sight and a grim cycle has set in.
Schmidt, too, knows that if in fact West Geman export industries - which produce almost a quarter of the gross national product here and a quarter of all jobs - begin to slide Germany will also fall short of even the limited 3.5 percent growth it is trying to reach this year - which the U.S. government is too low to begin with.