Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Renewable energy, medical technology and industrial machinery are sectors of particular promise.

With 1.6 percent GDP growth forecast for 2017, the Austrian economy is expected to grow at a slightly higher rate than the EU average of 1.5 percent. Austria is a small nation with 8.6 million inhabitants, yet the country shows considerable need for imports in various sectors. Between 1995 and 2014, Austria’s import quota grew from 35 percent to 50 percent, and imports reached €133 billion in 2015. Due to favorable financing possibilities and increasing sales expectations for 2017, gross fixed capital formation investments are expected to grow by 2.7 percent in 2017.

In the first 11 months of 2016, the U.S. exported goods worth $3.5 billion to Austria. The U.S. is on par with the EU as one of the country’s most important trading partners. Wisconsin contributed $24.4 million to these exports. Machinery exports, especially of construction equipment and industrial machinery, accounted for $11 million - almost half of all Wisconsin’s exports to Austria. The positive outlook for Austrian machinery production in 2017, due to increasing equipment investments by companies, may further boost U.S. machinery exports to Austria.

While Austria has highly innovative medical technology products, nearly all of what it produces is exported to foreign markets. National demand, on the other hand, is met by imports. Demographic aging and the growth in private care act to increase demand. With a U.S. export value of $44 million and a Wisconsin value of $1 million in the first 11 months of 2016, medical equipment is of major importance in the trade between the U.S. and Austria. Pharmaceuticals and medicines are also in high demand in Austria, with a U.S. export value of $1.9 billion.

The energy transition presently underway in Austria presents another opportunity for Wisconsin companies. Across the EU, the majority of energy is required to come from renewable sources by 2021. While 60 percent of all energy already comes from hydropower in Austria, its hydropower plants are in need of expansion and renovation. In addition, Austria intends to increase the number of photovoltaic and wind energy systems, and already spends €3 billion  a year to support homeowners’ purchases of renewable energy solutions. In the first 11 months of 2016, engines, turbines and power transmission equipment worth $4.7 million were shipped from Wisconsin to Austria, exceeding the value of the same period in 2015 by 42 percent.

Wisconsin companies can take advantage of opportunities in Austria a as a way to gain entry to the EU market as a whole. For more information on Austria, please visit the Austrian Institute for Economics Research; for business information, see the Austrian Economic Chamber; and for companies, search Advantage Austria.