Germany has a social market economy with a highly qualified labour force, a large capital stock, a low level of corruption, and a high level of innovation. It has the largest national economy in Europe, the fourth largest by nominal GDP in the world, and the fifth largest by PPP in 2009. The service sector contributes approximately 71% of the total GDP, industry 28%, and agriculture 0.9%. The average national unemployment rate in 2010 was about 7.5%. First estimates indicate a 3.6% increase in the price-adjusted GDP for 2010, following a 4.7% drop in 2009.
Germany is a founding member of the EU, the G8 and the G20, and was the world's largest exporter from 2003 to 2008. In 2009 it remains the second largest exporter and third largest importer of goods. Most of the country's exports are in engineering, especially machinery, automobiles, chemical goods and metals. Germany is a leading producer of wind turbines and solar-power technology. Major annual international trade fairs and congresses are held in Hanover, Frankfurt, and Berlin.
Germany is an advocate of closer European economic and political integration. Its commercial policies are increasingly determined by agreements among European Union (EU) members and by EU legislation. Germany introduced the common European currency, the euro, on 1 January 2002. Its monetary policy is set by the European Central Bank. Two decades after German reunification, standards of living and per capita incomes remain significantly higher in the states of the former West Germany than in the former East. The modernisation and integration of the eastern German economy is a long-term process scheduled to last until the year 2019, with annual transfers from west to east amounting to roughly $80 billion. In January 2009 the German government approved a €50 billion economic stimulus plan to protect several sectors from a downturn and a subsequent rise in unemployment rates.
Of the world's 500 largest stock-market-listed companies measured by revenue in 2010, the Fortune Global 500, 37 are headquartered in Germany. 30 Germany-based companies are included in the DAX, the German stock market index. Germany is recognised for its specialised small and medium enterprises. Around 1,000 of these companies are global market leaders in their segment and are labelled hidden champions.
Germany Trade and Invest is the new foreign trade and inward investment agency of the Federal Republic of Germany. Formed following the merger of the German Office for Foreign Trade and Invest in Germany GmbH, Germany Trade and Invest officially came into being on January 1, 2009. Germany Trade and Invest’s mission is to promote Germany as a location for industrial and technological investments and to identify investors for the German market. The organization advises and supports foreign companies seeking to expand into the German market, and assists German companies looking to enter foreign markets. Germany Trade and Invest provides comprehensive and client-oriented economic and industry data as well as information about calls for proposals in foreign countries, investment and development projects, and legal and customs authorities. The promotion of economic activity in Germany’s new federal states, including Berlin, also forms an integral part of the agency’s external trade and business location marketing remit.
Germany Trade and Invest can count upon an international network of industry analysts who perform on-site research into foreign markets and supports foreign businesses looking to establish a company in Germany. Our international team of experts works closely together with the German Chamber Network. This growing partnership allows German exporters and potential foreign investors alike to benefit from a centralized first point of contact overseas, with client-specific information and consultancy services all provided under one roof.
Germany's Business Environment: A Brief Guide (Size: 709 kb)