Trade with the largest European Economy – Germany
As one of the largest producers of automobiles, Germany offers great opportunities for U.S. automotive equipment suppliers. It is the largest European economy and the third largest export and import economy in the world. Centrally located in Europe, Germany’s 2014 GDP was $3.8 trillion with real growth rate of 1.6%.
Germany is home to such automobile manufacturers as Adam Opel AG, BMW, Daimler AG and Volkswagen. Besides being a large producer of automobiles, Germany also is the home to chemical conglomerates such as Siemens and BASF as well as to pharmaceutical companies such as Bayer. As a result these particular sectors of the German economy are especially well suited for export as well as for the import of inputs and raw materials from overseas markets such as the United States. For imports, automobiles and vehicle parts are the largest such commodities along with electronics equipment.
- Top export destinations from Germany are France, the US, UK, China and the Netherlands.
- Top import origins into Germany are the Netherlands, China, France, the US and Italy
Infrastructure and Logistics
Germany has a well-defined and mature transportation infrastructure. It is home to Europe’s second largest container port, Hamburg as well as Europe’s largest inland port, Duisburg. In addition, the Rhine and Elbe rivers serve as major thoroughfares for barge traffic.
Its airport network consists of 23 airports that offer international service including Frankfurt which is the 9th largest airport in the world in terms of cargo with 2,132,132 tonnes moved in 2014.
Much of the cargo within the country is transported by truck as opposed to rail. As a result, because of the preference of truck, tolls are utilized. However, there has been an attempt to shift more cargo on rail to reduce emissions and road congestion.
The rail is operated by private operator, Deutsche Bahn, but receives government funding. With 37,900 kilometers of track it is one of the largest networks in the world. In recent years, Deutsche Bahn has been successful in extending its German network to China providing an alternative solution to that of air or ocean for shippers. For U.S. exporters the presence of such a well developed infrastructure means that the entire country is accessible for potential sales and distribution opportunities.
Because Germany is a member of the European Union, it follows European Union trade requirements in addition to its own requirements. The Integrated Tariff of the Community, referred to as TARIC (Tarif Intégré de la Communauté), is designed to show the various rules which apply to specific products being imported into the customs territory of the EU or, in some cases, exported from it. To determine if a license is required for a particular product, check the TARIC.
Some European directives to be mindful of include REACH, “Registration, Evaluation and Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals”, which requires chemicals produced or imported into the EU in volumes above 1 metric ton per year to be registered with a central database handled by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Another directive, Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), requires U.S. exporters to register relevant products with a national WEEE authority or arrange for this to be done by a local partner.
According to the US’ website www.export.gov , Germany’s regulations and bureaucratic procedures can be a difficult hurdle for companies wishing to enter the market. Complex safety standards complicate access to the market for many U.S. products. It is advised that U.S. suppliers do their homework thoroughly and make sure they know precisely which standards apply to their product and that they obtain timely testing and certification.
Goods imported into Germany from non-EU states are subject to an import turnover tax. The import turnover tax rate equals the value-added tax rates of 19% levied on domestic products and has to be paid to the customs authority.
A mature market, Germany continues to offer great opportunity for exporters particularly in automotive, chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing. Be mindful of the intricacies associated with customs and duties within Europe and to Germany; otherwise enjoy the benefits this country has to offer.