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Last updated : Nov 2009
Germany Business
Germany Business Overview - TravelPuppy.com
Germany Economy

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 European nations.

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.

Business Etiquette

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 business visits.

Office hours: Monday-Friday 0900-1700 hrs (many close earlier on Fridays).

Commercial Information

The following organisations can offer advice:

German-British Chamber of Industry and Commerce,
Mecklenburg House,
16 Buckingham Gate,
London SW1E 6LB,
(telephone number: (020) 7976 4100, fax number: (020) 7976 4101,
e-mail: mail@ahk-london.co.uk,
website: www.ahk-london.co.uk or www.germanbritishchamber.co.uk).

This organisation also has branch offices in most major Western European capitals.

Deutscher Industrie und Handelstag (Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce)
Breite Strasse 29,
10178 Berlin
(telephone number: (30) 203 080, fax number: (30) 2030 81000
e-mail: dihk@berlin.dihk.de
website: www.diht.de).

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.

Conferences and Conventions

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,
60329 Frankfurt/M
(telephone number: (69) 242 9300, fax number: (69) 2429 3026, e-mail: info@gcb.de,

New York: 122 East 42nd Street,
52nd Floor,
New York, NY 10168-0072,
(telephone number: (212) 661 4582, fax number: (212) 661 6192, e-mail: gcbn y@gcb.de).

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 Railways.