Germany is one of the most highly developed and efficient industrial nations and, after the USA, Japan, and China, has the world’s fourth largest national economy. With a population of 82 million Germany is furthermore the largest and most important market in the European Union (EU). The Germany economy focuses on industrially produced goods and services. In particular German mechanical engineering products, vehicles, and chemicals are highly valued internationally. Around one euro in four is earned from exports and more than every fifth job depends directly or indirectly on foreign trade. Having been “export world champion” six times in a row between 2003 and 2008, in 2009, with exports worth US$ 1,121 billion, around one third of the gross national income, Germany was the second biggest exporter of goods worldwide after China (US$ 1,202 billion). Germany’s share of total world trade is around nine percent.
Given its high focus on exports there is scarcely any other country than Germany so intertwined with the world economy and interested in open markets. The most important trading partners are France, the Netherlands, the USA and Great Britain. In 2009, goods and services worth EUR 82 billion were exported to France, EUR 54 billion to the Netherlands and the USA, and EUR 53 billion to Great Britain. In addition to trade with the original European Union member states, since the European Union’s expansion eastwards (in 2004 and 2007) there has been an increase in trade with the central and east European EU Member States. A good ten percent of all exports go to these countries. Overall the share of total German exports to the countries in the European Union is 63 percent.
The importance of trade and economic relations with emerging nations in Asia is growing continually. Asia is now the second most important market for goods from Germany. In 2009 14 percent of German exports went to this region. China is the most important partner. Since 1999 Germany has also been China’s biggest European investor. Some 2,500 German companies have investments in the country.