One out of every four jobs in Germany is directly or indirectly dependent on exports, and that ratio rises to one out of two in industrial enterprises. Germany had an exports-to-GDP ratio of 45 percent in 2014. According to the German Federal Statistical Office, the country exported goods valued at €1,124 billion in 2014 alone. Germany’s industrial and social well-being is fundamentally tied to its export performance. Exports are consequently a major driver of economic growth.
Yet, particularly medium-sized enterprises often shy away from the risks associated with engaging in export trade or making foreign investments. While a large portion of German exports goes to other European Union countries, companies are increasingly seeking to tap into opportunities outside of the established foreign markets. But the move into newly industrialised and developing countries is not always easy, and is frequently marked by a lack of contacts and poor knowledge of local conditions.
As part of its foreign trade promotion policies, the federal government helps German companies enter and secure foreign markets through a number of financing and support instruments. Companies wanting to expand abroad can draw on existing contacts at German Foreign Chambers of Commerce, so-called AHKs, and German embassies. Germany Trade & Invest supports medium-sized German enterprises in their efforts to be globally competitive by providing analyses of the opportunities and risks in foreign markets. The programme for foreign market development focuses on helping SMEs position themselves internationally. Companies that carry out export activities need reliable export financing. Export credit insurance is essential to the German export industry, because without sufficient coverage many companies have only limited access to foreign markets. The federal government therefore supports German companies from all sectors including banks with the implementation and financing of international projects through its export and investment financing initiatives. In addition, both federal and state governments give financial aid to German companies participating in trade fairs abroad.
To meet industry’s long-term needs and requirements, the BDI is committed to further developing the tried-and-tested instruments of foreign trade promotion. These must be geared towards helping companies overcome the hurdles associated with entering new markets and supporting international business endeavours. The BDI represents the collective interests of companies big and small at both the national and international levels and keeps businesses informed of all major developments, particularly those affecting foreign trade.