Thanks to a long history of German immigration and a shared manufacturing and agricultural heritage, Wisconsin has been called one of the most German states in the U.S. These deep roots have cultivated a strong trade partnership with the country. Germany’s markets present excellent opportunities for companies looking for export destinations, especially in the manufacturing, renewable energy and consumer goods sectors.
Germany’s Market Structure and Export Opportunities
The manufacturing industry in Germany represents 8.5 percent of Europe’s manufacturing companies and generates 26 percent of the European Union’s manufacturing revenue. Also, more than 27 percent of German manufacturing revenue is generated from innovative products. The industrial sector’s recovery has not been as robust as the consumer side, but new orders, especially intermediate goods needed for German machinery exports in the latter part of 2015, are a positive sign. Wisconsin businesses focusing on renewable energy solutions should also benefit from the rapid growth of that sector in Germany, as the share of renewable energy in total energy consumption grew from 25 percent in 2013 to 27 percent in 2014 and is expected to increase further to 33 percent once 2015 numbers are available.
Trade Fairs: A Jump-Start to Exporting Success
Germany is the world’s #1 location for hosting international trade fairs. Around 150 international trade fairs and exhibitions are held in Germany every year, attracting up to 170,000 exhibitors and between 9 and 10 million visitors. Many of these shows, such as Hannover Messe, are the largest in the world in their industry, attracting buyers and sellers from many countries, beyond just Germany and its European neighbors. These events provide excellent opportunities to stay abreast of changes in consumer preferences and technology, assess global competitors and introduce new products.
Connections Past, Present and Future
While in Germany for the Hannover Messe 2016 trade fair, the Wisconsin delegation will travel to the German state of Hessen to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Wisconsin-Hessen “sister state” relationship. As a result of this connection, Hessen Minister-President Volker Bouffier will also travel to Wisconsin to reinforce cultural and economic ties in both directions.
Future Remains Bright for Germany
Germany is benefiting from an unprecedented stimulus by the European Central Bank. With unemployment at a record low, wages rising and oil more than 37 percent cheaper than last year, domestic spending has become the driver of economic growth. Total employment in 2015 reached its highest level since the country’s unification, and Germany’s GDP exceeded the 3 trillion euro mark ($3.3 trillion) for the first time ever. Additionally, while the immigrant/refugee crisis is forcing Germany to address some social issues, it may eventually have a positive impact on the economy. The arrival of refugees has increased short-term consumption demand, especially in construction. In the long term, accepting refugees and migrants is also considered as a way to increase the availability of skilled employees in Germany. Overall, forecasts for the German economy in 2016 look good, with an expected GDP growth of 1.7 percent. The forecast improved in each of the last four months of 2015.