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Trade Profile

In this page: Foreign Trade in Figures | Trade Compliance | Standards

 

Foreign Trade in Figures

Trade represents about 86% of Germany’s GDP (2015), and Germany is both the world’s third largest importer and exporter. Since the onset of the Eurozone crisis, Germany has benefited from the weak euro, which made German goods even cheaper outside of the Eurozone. Germany is still the world’s largest exporter of automobiles, but Volkswagen market shares dropped dramatically following the 2015 emissions scandal.

Germany’s trade surplus is significant and may have reached a record high in 2016. According to the IFO Institute think tank, it could reach USD 297 billion, making Germany the country with the largest trade surplus in the world in front of China. Once again, the European Commission has started a ‘macroeconomic imbalance’ procedure due to Germany’s large current account surplus. The Commission has alleged that German policy favours exports over consumption.

Germany’s primary trade partner is the European Union: around 60% of German exports and 66% of its imports are traded within the EU. Its main trading partners within the EU are France, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. The United States and China comprise Germany’s other main trading partners.

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20112012201320142015
Imports of Goods (million USD) 1,254,8691,154,8521,181,2331,207,0411,050,025
Exports of Goods (million USD) 1,473,9851,401,1131,445,0671,494,6081,329,469
Imports of Services (million USD) 294,464292,143324,691329,354289,475
Exports of Services (million USD) 245,239242,023261,184272,441247,309
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 7.0-0.13.14.05.5
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 8.32.81.94.15.2
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 39.939.939.539.139.2
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 44.846.045.545.746.8
Trade Balance (million USD) 227,283257,424281,062300,408287,888
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 84.785.985.084.886.0

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) - 2016; World Bank - 2016

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2016
United States 8.8%
France 8.3%
United Kingdom 7.0%
Netherlands 6.5%
China 6.4%
Italy 5.0%
Austria 4.9%
Poland 4.4%
Switzerland 4.1%
Belgium 3.4%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2016
China 9.9%
Netherlands 8.7%
France 6.9%
United States 6.2%
Italy 5.4%
Poland 4.9%
Switzerland 4.7%
Czech Republic 4.4%
Austria 4.0%
Belgium 4.0%

Source: Comtrade, 2015

 

Main Products

1,340.8 bn USD of products exported in 2016
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 11.3%
Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles for the transport of ten or more persons, motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, motor vehicles for the transport of goods and special purpose motor vehicles of heading 8701 to 8705, n.e.s. 4.2%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses incl. those in the form of transdermal administration or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 3.6%
Powered aircraft e.g. helicopters and aeroplanes; spacecraft, incl. satellites, and suborbital and spacecraft launch vehicles 2.6%
Human blood; animal blood prepared for therapeutic, prophylactic or diagnostic uses; antisera and other blood fractions and modified immunological products, whether or not obtained by means of biotechnological processes; vaccines, toxins, cultures of micro-organisms (excl. yeasts) and similar products 1.7%
Automatic data processing machines and units thereof; magnetic or optical readers, machines for transcribing data onto data media in coded form and machines for processing such data, n.e.s. 1.1%
Machines and mechanical appliances having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter; parts thereof 1.0%
Instruments and appliances used in medical, surgical, dental or veterinary sciences, incl. scintigraphic apparatus, other electro-medical apparatus and sight-testing instruments, n.e.s. 1.0%
Parts suitable for use solely or principally with internal combustion piston engine of heading 8407 or 8408 1.0%
Electronic integrated circuits and microassemblies 0.9%
1,060.7 bn USD of products imported in 2016
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 4.8%
Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles for the transport of ten or more persons, motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, motor vehicles for the transport of goods and special purpose motor vehicles of heading 8701 to 8705, n.e.s. 3.5%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 2.7%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses incl. those in the form of transdermal administration or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 2.4%
Automatic data processing machines and units thereof; magnetic or optical readers, machines for transcribing data onto data media in coded form and machines for processing such data, n.e.s. 2.3%
Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons 2.2%
Human blood; animal blood prepared for therapeutic, prophylactic or diagnostic uses; antisera and other blood fractions and modified immunological products, whether or not obtained by means of biotechnological processes; vaccines, toxins, cultures of micro-organisms (excl. yeasts) and similar products 1.7%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 1.6%
Transmission apparatus for radio-telephony, radio-telegraphy, radio-broadcasting or television, whether or not incorporating reception apparatus or sound recording or reproducing apparatus; television cameras; still image video cameras and other video camera recorders; digital cameras 1.3%
Electronic integrated circuits and microassemblies 1.3%

Source: Comtrade, 2015

 
 
 

Main Services

463.8 bn USD of services exported in 2014
Transportation
24.20%
Other business services
23.10%
Travel
18.69%
Computer and information services
10.92%
Financial services
6.50%
Royalties and license fees
5.96%
Insurance services
4.22%
Government services
2.28%
Communications services
2.16%
Construction services
1.19%
Cultural and recreational services
0.80%
625.1 bn USD of services imported in 2014
Travel
29.87%
Other business services
26.71%
Transportation
23.45%
Computer and information services
6.58%
Insurance services
3.28%
Financial services
3.15%
Royalties and license fees
2.60%
Communications services
2.13%
Cultural and recreational services
1.13%
Construction services
0.66%
Government services
0.45%

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Last Available Data

 

Exchange Rate System

Local Currency
Euro (EUR)
Exchange Rate Regime
Floating exchange regime.
Level of Currency Instability
Very limited exchange risk since the euro is a major currency.
 
 
Monetary Indicators 20112012201320142015
Euro (EUR) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD 0.720.780.750.750.90

Source: The European Central Bank - 2016.

 
 

Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Member of OECD
Party to the Kyoto Protocol
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
Party to the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls For Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies
Party of the International Coffee Agreement 2007
Main International Economic Cooperation
Member of the European Union
Member of the European Economic Area
Multilateral agreements and bilateral agreements with many countries
Party of the ATA Convention on Temporary Admissions and Use of the Carnets
Yes

As a Reminder, the ATA is a System Allowing the Free Movement of Goods Across Frontiers and Their Temporary Admission Into a Customs Territory With Relief From Duties and Taxes. The Goods Are Covered By a Single Document Known as the ATA Carnet That is Secured By an International Guarantee System.
Look Up the Other Member Countries And Read the Web Pages of the World Customs Organization Devoted to the ATA Carnet.
Party of the TIR Convention
Yes

As a Reminder, the TIR Convention and its Transit Regime Contribute to the Facilitation of International Transport, Especially International Road Transport, Not Only in Europe and the Middle East, But Also in Other Parts of the World, Such as Africa and Latin America.
The UNCTAD Website Allows You to Read the TIR Convention, See the List of Member Countries And to Find Further Information.
Accompanying Documents For Imports
Goods coming into a country of the European Union from another country in the Community are exempt from Customs duties and Customs formalities. The documents which must accompany goods moving between EU countries are the following:
- the commercial invoice (at least in duplicate, it must contain the intracommunity VAT number of the operator who is carrying out the delivery, that of the buyer by which he is identified in the country of delivery, it must mention "VAT exemption, art. 262 b-1 of the CGI")
- the delivery note (not compulsory)
- the sanitary and phytosanitary certificate (for live animals).
- the single administrative document (SAD) for trade with overseas Departments as well as with the Channel Islands and the Canaries.

In the case of temporary export within the EU, the ATA carnet and the Community carnet are no longer necessary. It is enough to keep a register listing the temporary shipments.

Concerning transport, no transport documents are required for intracommunity trade.
However, in the case of goods transiting or destined for one of the EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland), form T2 should be produced or a copy A (computerized transit). In the same way, goods transiting or destined for the Channel Islands or the Canaries must be accompanied by form T2F.

For a transaction outside the Community, you must add:
- Import licenses
- Certifications
- Single Customs Document (SAD)
- Health certificate

Free Zones
There are four free-trade zones in Germany established and operated under EU law: Bremerhaven, Cuxhaven, Deggendorf and Duisburg.
For Further Information
German Customs
Bundesministerium der Finanzen (Federal Ministry of Finance)
Non Tariff Barriers
As a member of the European Union, Germany abides by the regulations and polices agreed to by all Community members.

There are several limitations to the EU’s (generally) liberal foreign trade policy, especially related to agricultural products. While the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) exists to favour the development of agriculture within the EU, the intervention mechanisms, subsidies, and quotas have been criticised for their cost to the EU and consumers. Moreover, agricultural products containing Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) must be labelled as such on its packaging and the importation of beef that contains artificial beef hormones is prohibited. Other goods- medicines for human use, waste, plants, or live animals- may be prohibited or subject to specific regulation.
Sectors or Products For Which Commercial Disagreements Have Been Registered With the WTO
Agricultural products: cereals, bananas, poultry, geographical designation of origin, garlic, salmon, sardines, sugar, wine, corn, coffee, melted cheese, rice.
IT materials, films and television programs, merchant vessels, civil aircraft, steel and cotton.
Assessment of Commercial Policy
German commercial policy, as seen by the WTO
Barriers to exchanges, inventoried by the United States

Learn more about How to Export to Germany on Globaltrade.net, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

 

Standards

National Standards Organisations
German Institute for Standardisation
DKE  German Commission for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies of DIN and VDE
Association for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies
Integration in the International Standards Network
At the European level:
- CEN, European Committee for Standardisation
- CENELEC, European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation
- European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI)

At the International level:
-
International Standards Organisation (ISO)
- International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)

- International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

German standards are often used as the basis for the European standardisation system.

Obligation to Use Standards
The German Institute for Standardization is a private not-for-profit organization which administers and co-ordinates the private sector thanks to the establishment of a voluntary system of standards and of compliance evaluation. As a member of the European Union, Germany applies the European standardization system.
Classification of Standards
CE, DIN, ISO
Assessment of the System of Standardization
The consumer of products for the general public does not focus on standards, although they are perceived as a quality assurance. All household appliances have a standard. What is important is the guarantee period. Standards are, on the other hand, a determining factor for sub-contracted products. Quality standards in the manufacturing process are also a determining factor in sub-contracting.
Online Consultation of Standards
Beuth
The on-line catalog of European standards
The ISO catalog
The IEC catalog
Certification Organisations
German Institute for Standardisation
ISO International Organisation for Standardisation
Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.
VDE - Association for electrical, electronic and information technologies
Technischer Uberwachungsverein e.V. - TÜV (Technical Inspection Association)
Associations of Standards Users
German Committee of Standards Users

 

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Last Updates: June 2017