From the ruins of the Third Reich, both halves of divided post-war
Germany emerged over the next two decades as the economic powerhouses
of their respective European blocs. The unified German economy is
the third largest in the world. The bulk of its production is in
the West (the pre-unification Federal Republic).
The Western economy has large chemical and car manufacturing plants,
mechanical, electrical and electronic engineering, and rapidly growing
advanced technology and service sectors in computing, biotechnology,
information processing and media.
The East’s (former Democratic Republic’s) economy never
dominated COMECON, the Soviet bloc Council for Mutual Economic Assistance,
in the way that the West’s did the EU, but it consistently
recorded the highest growth and per capita income within the bloc.
Reunification illustrated starkly how far the East had fallen behind
the West. After initial difficulties, and much pessimistic forecasting,
the Eastern economy was absorbed fairly painlessly into the West
albeit at considerable financial cost. The benefits was a head start
for German companies entering the new markets of Eastern Europe.
Nonetheless, Germany’s most important trading partners are
its fellow members of the EU, plus the USA, Switzerland and Japan.
Trade with China is on a similar scale to that with several Eastern
The huge expenditure incurred as a result of unification, estimated
at US$100 billion, had a knock-on effect on the speed of the German
pursuit of economic and political union in Europe as the Government
needed to ensure that Germany met the economic criteria (budget
deficit, total debt) for entry into European Monetary Union
(EMU) and the introduction of the single currency. The high cost
of unification and long-term structural problems in the economy
have put the German economy under pressure since the late 1990s.
Entry into EMU has demanded further fiscal discipline,
and in 2002 the economy was virtually static while unemployment
remained close to 10 per cent.
Businesspeople are expected to dress quite smartly. English is spoken
by many local businesspeople, but it is an advantage to have a working
knowledge of German, or an interpreter.
Appointments should be made well in advance, particularly during
the summer. Appointments may be suggested slightly earlier in the
day than is often the custom in the UK. Once made, appointment times
should be strictly adhered to. Some firms may close early Friday
afternoon. Always use titles such as Herr Doktor or Frau Doktor
when addressing business contacts. Punctuality is essential for
Office hours: Monday-Friday 0900-1700
hrs (many close earlier on Fridays).
The following organisations can offer advice:
Chamber of Industry and Commerce,
16 Buckingham Gate,
London SW1E 6LB,
(telephone number: (020) 7976 4100, fax number: (020) 7976 4101,
This organisation also has branch offices in most major Western
Industrie und Handelstag (Association of German Chambers of Industry
Breite Strasse 29,
(telephone number: (30) 203 080, fax number: (30) 2030 81000
The organisation is affiliated with 83 Chambers of Industry and
Commerce. There are also Chambers of Industry and Commerce in all
major German cities and towns and a regional Chamber of Commerce
for each of the states.
The western part of Germany can offer a highly developed and well-equipped
network of conference destinations.
For further information, contact the German
Convention Bureau (Deutsches Kongressbüro), which has branches
in Frankfurt/M and New York.
Frankfurt/M: Münchner Strasse 48,
(telephone number: (69) 242 9300, fax number: (69) 2429 3026, e-mail:
New York: 122 East 42nd Street,
New York, NY 10168-0072,
(telephone number: (212) 661 4582, fax number: (212) 661 6192, e-mail:
Founded in 1973, the Bureau is a non-profitmaking organisation sponsored
by Germany’s major convention cities, hotels, travel agents
and carriers, as well as the country’s leading travel and
tourist associations, including the German National Tourist
Board, Lufthansa and the German