Largest family firms earn every third Euro from exports

Germany’s largest family firms export successfully: in 2015 they generated around one Euro in three from exports of goods and services. It is specifically industrial family firms which are particularly strong exporters with an export share of 41.5%. The largest market for the largest family firms continues to be Europe.

Industrial family businesses export around one quarter of their products into the Eurozone. Within the Eurozone, their number one export market is France. Asked about their most important export countries, more than 70% of family businesses name European States.

At the same time, large family businesses have their sights firmly set on global growth markets. Their second most important market is the USA which has overtaken China in the ranking of most important export countries as compared with 2011. If France defended its leading position with 35%, the USA is today in second position (2011: third position). By contrast, China has fallen back behind Austria to fourth position over the last five years (2011: second position). The reason for this is likely to be slower growth of the Chinese economy. Russia has also lost momentum in the face of political tensions and EU sanctions. Three out of ten family businesses surveyed employ their own workers in China. These businesses are particularly feeling the economic slowdown on the Chinese market. 

The results also show that, the larger the company, the more likely it is to be internationally active. Family businesses in particular still encounter major hurdles with the move abroad. Policy-makers can strengthen the overseas activities of family businesses through non-bureaucratic procedures, provisions to prevent double taxation and free-trade agreements.