Germany as an export nation
Germany is an important trading partner worldwide. In terms of exports, the emphasis is on motor vehicles and automotive components, machines, chemical products, IT appliances and electronic products. These four product groups account for a good half of German exports. Overall, the ratio of exports to total sales has almost doubled since 1991, rising from 23.7 percent to 46.9 percent. In 2019 the foreign trade ratio, i.e., the sum total of imports and exports in relation to the gross domestic product (GDP), stood at 88.0 percent. This makes Germany’s economy the “most open” of the G7 countries.
Differences between import and export
The partner countries in the European Union (EU) are the most important target market, followed by the United States and the People’s Republic of China. With regard to imports, however, the picture is reversed: In 2019 most imports came from China, the Netherlands and the USA. Economic and trade relations with Asian countries are continually becoming ever more important and today 5,200 German companies have their own distribution structures and production sites in China alone, accounting for around 1.1 million jobs.
Substantial direct investments abroad
German direct investments abroad, which have increased sixfold to well over one trillion euros (2018), are an expression of its strong links within the global economy. Almost half of that total was invested in Europe. On the other hand, some 26,000 foreign companies employ more than 3.7 million people in Germany. The value of foreign direct investments stands at 540 billion euros.
An important logistics hub
At the same time, Germany is a transhipment hub for the flow of goods in Europe and the world as a whole. More goods transit through Germany than through any other EU country. About a third of the turnover in the ten most important logistics markets in the EU is generated in Germany, with 3 million people involved in logistics. The Port of Hamburg, where around 9 million standard containers are processed each year, is a gateway to the world.