HIGHLY DEVELOPED ECONOMIES WITH INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH
Germany is consistently among Wisconsin’s top export destinations, and was #4 in 2020. Austria is a smaller market but has experienced significant growth in recent years. Wisconsin’s exports to Austria grew by 85% from 2019 to 2020 and by another 32% in the first nine months of 2021. This healthy volume of trade reflects a history of immigration from German-speaking countries to Wisconsin; mutual strength in manufacturing; and shared emphasis on quality, productivity and a strong work ethic. In all, Wisconsin exported $524 million in goods to Germany and $90.4 million to Austria in 2020.
To help Wisconsin exporters break into the Austrian market and grow their exports to the German market, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) will be leading a global trade venture to these markets in May 2022.
In addition to having your appointments arranged for you and potential business partners identified, each participant in the global trade venture will also receive a market assessment for Germany and Austria specific to your company, detailing considerations to keep in mind when introducing your product or service into the market. WEDC has eyes and ears on the ground in Europe, in the form of Wisconsin’s authorized trade representative—thus making it easier for Wisconsin companies to find partners they can trust, and taking some of the guesswork out of launching in a new market. With all your appointments arranged for you, you can focus on business rather than logistics and scheduling.
Germany is the fourth-largest economy in the world and accounts for more than one-fifth of the European Union’s GDP. This economic powerhouse imports more than $1 trillion worth of products each year, $58 billion of this from the U.S. It has a GDP of $4 trillion and logged its 10th consecutive year of GDP growth in 2019; after declining by 4.9% in 2020 due to the global pandemic, it is expected to post a positive growth figure for 2021. Germany’s path to prosperity over the past decade has focused on developing new technologies, driving innovation and leveraging a highly skilled workforce that demands higher wage rates.
Leading categories for Wisconsin exports to Germany in 2020 included industrial machinery (17%); medical and scientific instruments (11%); miscellaneous chemical products (11%); essential oils, perfumes and cosmetics (8%); non-rail vehicles and parts (7%); organic chemicals (7%); and electrical machinery (6%).
Austria is a relatively small economy—contributing just 3% of EU GDP, or $429 billion in 2020—but is a well-developed market economy with a skilled labor force and a high standard of living. Thanks to proximity and a common language, it is closely tied to Germany’s economy, but the U.S. is its third-largest trade partner. Its economy features a large service sector, a solid industrial sector and a small but highly developed agricultural sector. After declining by 6.6% in 2020, Austria’s GDP is projected to log 3.8% growth for 2021.The top categories of Wisconsin products exported to Austria in the first nine months of 2021 included industrial machinery (58%) and medical and scientific instruments (26%).
Because the economies of Wisconsin, Germany and Austria overlap to such a high degree, Wisconsin companies will often find their strongest competitors in the region, but they will also find business partners that easily integrate with Wisconsin companies’ offerings. There is also strong demand in the German and Austrian markets for parts and components going into larger systems.
Advanced manufacturing and the Internet of Things—or Industry 4.0—is one of the most dynamic sectors of the region’s economy. Major subcategories include robotics and automation, additive manufacturing and advanced materials, precision machine tools, and sensors and instruments.
“Smart cities” technologies that reduce pollution, energy usage and traffic congestion are in demand in Germany. The Water Council, based in Milwaukee, has developed a strong relationship with its German counterpart, the German Water Partnership, and has established the groundwork for cooperative business relationships related to water filtration, usage and reclamation. IFAT, the world’s leading trade fair for water, sewage, waste and raw materials management, takes place every other year in Munich.
Germany and Austria are good markets for processed foods; food processing and packaging machinery; and health care products. The U.S. is also a major supplier or aerospace and defense- or security-related products to Germany and Austria, and that market remains strong.
Germany and Austria can be very demanding markets, but if a Wisconsin company can succeed there, they can compete on a global level. German and Austrian customers are very quality-conscious and want proof that a product lives up to the manufacturer’s claims.
A Wisconsin company looking to export to Germany or Austria should have an understanding of the export process and should already have its products CE-certified. Since so many competitors for Wisconsin firms can be found in the region, Wisconsin exporters must have or develop a strong value proposition with distinct market differentiators.
The trade venture will begin in Munich, which has a population of 6 million in the surrounding metro area. With an economy based on high-tech, automotive manufacturing, the service sector and creative industries, the city houses many multinational companies, including BMW and Siemens.
Next, the Wisconsin delegation will travel to Linz, Austria’s second-leading economic center after Vienna. With a population of just under 300,000, the metro area’s key industries include metal production and processing, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, electronics, mechanical engineering, information technology and food production.
The final stop on the itinerary will be the Austrian capital of Vienna. With a metro area population of 2.6 million, Vienna is responsible for one-third of Austria’s GDP, and is home to companies in nearly every industry. Leading industries include machinery manufacturing (especially electrical machinery and transportation equipment), chemicals, metal products and consumer goods. Vienna is also a hub for banking, research and technology.
Overall, the Bavaria region of southern Germany and northern Austria is a good match for Wisconsin’s economy based on overlapping sectors of strength. Although the region is well known for tourism, it also presents strong business opportunities for Wisconsin exporters, especially in manufacturing and technology. By participating in this trade venture, Wisconsin exporters will be making connections in a geographic region many companies overlook—and by visiting the market in person, they will build trust and gain an advantage over their competitors.
Companies in the following industries are especially encouraged to consider attending this trade venture:
- Automation/industrial Internet of Things
- Agricultural technology
- Food and beverage
- Information technology
- Water technology
- Clean technology