The import and export business by numbers

Anyone who knows the current facts and figures will understand the role Germany plays in world trade.

Container transshipment: Burchardkai Terminal in the Port of Hamburg
Container transshipment: Burchardkai Terminal in the Port of Hamburg picture alliance / Geisler-Fotopress

1. In 2020 Germany exported goods worth 1,205 billion euros and imported goods worth 1,025 billion euros.

2. Its most important exports in 2020 were motor vehicles and components worth 187.4 billion euros, which amounts to a 15.5% share of total German exports. They were followed by machinery with a 14.5% share and chemical products with 9.3%.

3. Exports of timber are increasing very strongly. These exports were 42% higher than in 2019 and a good half of this total went to China.

4. The most important imports were data-processing devices – in other words, computer technology – as well as electrical and optical products, motor vehicles and components, machinery and chemical products.

5. Imports of plant-based beverages rose very strongly. The importation of soya-, oat-, almond- and rice-based drinks increased by 46%.

Strong presence outside Germany: BASF plant in China
Strong presence outside Germany: BASF plant in China BASF SE

6. The People’s Republic of China was Germany’s most important trading partner with a goods value of 212.7 billion euros (exports and imports). It was followed in second and third place by the Netherlands and the United States respectively.

7. Germany’s share of world trade in 2019 was 7.1%, which puts it in third place behind China (12%) and the USA (11%).

8. With an economic openness rating (imports plus exports in relation to GDP) of approximately 87.8% Germany has the “most open” economy among the G7 countries.

9. Germany benefits from a total of 77 EU trade agreements. The most important are those with Canada, Japan, Singapore and Vietnam. An agreement is currently under negotiation with China, while talks with the USA have been suspended.

10. In 2018 German direct investments abroad amounted to 1,277 billion euros, while foreign direct investments in Germany were worth 540 billion euros. The most important target region was Europe, which accounted for almost half the total investment; the most important target country was the United States.

11. The strong foreign trade effort is supported by 140 German Chambers of Commerce Abroad (AHKs) in 92 countries with a total of over 50,000 members.

12. The AHK India has over 5,500 German and Indian members, which makes it the largest German chamber of commerce abroad.

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