Economic relations with the United States – A pillar of German employment

Times Square, New York City © cgc76/Flickr (CC BY-NC ND 2.0)

The United States is a central political and economic partner for Germany. Many German jobs depend on German businesses selling to the United States and on U.S. companies investing in Germany.

The United States is not only an important political partner for Germany; economic relations are also of great importance. In 2015, the United States overtook France as the number one destination for German merchandise exports, which it remained in 2016 (Statistisches Bundesamt). German and U.S. companies are also among the largest investors in each other’s markets. Overall, relations with the United States are thus an important pillar of employment and prosperity in Germany.

Facts and figures

  • In 2016 the value of German merchandise exports to the United States was €106.9 billion, or 8.9 percent of the total (Statistisches Bundesamt);
  • With regard to merchandise imports, the United States was Germany's fourth most important trading partner in 2016 after China, the Netherlands and France. Germany imported goods worth €57.8 billion from the United States (Statistisches Bundesamt);
  • Total German investment in the United States was USD 255 billion as of 2015. This makes Germany the seventh most important foreign investor in the country;
  • German affiliates employ around 672,000 people in the United States. This makes German companies the 3rd largest foreign employer in the United States;
  • Between them, in 2015 the European Union and United States together generated 45.5 percent of global GDP and accounted for 61.2 percent of the global outward FDI stock (UNCTAD, provisional GDP figures).

Both sides benefit from close economic relations: U.S. companies have a strong presence in the German market as well: in 2016 Germany was the sixth-largest market for U.S. merchandise exports. Innovative U.S. products are very popular with German consumers. Investments by U.S. companies like Ford, General Electric, McDonald’s, and Hewlett Packard also secure jobs in Germany.

BDI is closely following the developments in transatlantic economic relations. The Representative of German Industry and Trade (RGIT) in Washington supports our work on the ground.