Digital industry and economy
The digitisation of Germany’s industry and economy will impact on all sectors and enhance opportunities associated with business models, manufacturing processes, digital marketplaces, future mobility and supply chains. There is demand in areas of UK strength such as food and drink, consumer goods, big data, artificial intelligence, cyber security and the internet of things.
Strong economic framework
Germany offers competitive tax regulations, investment incentives and a secure, highly developed political and economic framework. This is supported by an excellent infrastructure, a highly qualified workforce and a legal system that protects property and individual rights. Germany also host some of the largest international trade shows, where companies have access to German and international buyers.
Top five UK goods exported to Germany , in the four quarters to the end of Q3 2023
|Goods||Value (£ billion )|
|Mechanical power generators (intermediate)||3.1|
|Medicinal & pharmaceutical products||2.0|
Top five UK services exported to Germany , in the four quarters to the end of Q1 2023
|Service||Value (£ billion )|
|Other Business Services||9.3|
|Telecommunications, computer and information services||3.5|
|Intellectual property [Note 5]||2.5|
ONS UK trade in services: service type by partner country, non-seasonally adjusted
Last updated: July 2023
Download the latest trade and investment factsheet for Germany.
Total import value (into the UK from Germany) and export value (from the UK into Germany) over time
|Year||Imports (£ billion )||Exports (£ billion )||Total trade (£ billion )|
ONS UK total trade: all countries, seasonally adjusted
Last updated: October 2023
Total trade is the sum of all exports and imports over the same time period.
Download the latest trade and investment factsheet for Germany.
Germany: at a glance
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Opportunities for exporters
There are opportunities for UK companies across a broad range of industries. Our trade advisers in Germany have identified particular opportunities for UK businesses in the following sectors:
Germany offers investment incentives, ranging from cash incentives for the reimbursement of direct investment costs to incentives for labour and research and development.
Germany has a very high performing SME sector, called the ‘Mittelstand’. These companies are world leaders in their fields, but often need support with the challenges of digitalisation.
Drive to improve efficiency
German manufacturing companies are keen to make their factories more efficient. There are opportunities for UK companies specialising in data and technology to help improve the output of German plants.
Investment in future mobility
German automotive companies are investing heavily to meet the transport needs of the future. Volkswagen is investing €30 billion until 2023. It aims to transform the business from a manufacturer to a 'future mobility' service provider. Other car makers are doing the same. They need new solutions to achieve this, presenting opportunities for UK companies.
Demand for UK skills
The biggest challenge German automotive companies are facing is the need for new software and engineering talent. The UK's reputation for high-end engineering and software skills is recognised in Germany. Automotive companies are also more open than ever to engaging in partnerships, rather than direct procurement.
Ties with the UK
The ties between the German and UK automotive industries run deep. Leading global players based in Germany have significant existing manufacturing ties to the UK, including VW, BMW, Ford, Daimler AG, Opel and Bosch. The UK automotive industry is close to home for German carmakers and respected for its business practice and innovation.
Germany offers one of Europe’s largest markets for healthcare and life sciences products. Health expenditure accounted for 11.9% of GDP in 2019 (German Federal Statistics Office, 2020). High market demand and Germany’s strategic location make it a preferred choice for many international healthcare and life sciences companies preparing to expand.
An increasing demand for healthcare services in Germany, combined with widespread digitisation and growing awareness of the importance of health and fitness, is paving the way for digital solutions in healthcare. Germany is also a world leader in medical technology and biotechnology, offering considerable opportunities for UK companies.
Germany presents significant opportunities in high quality pharmaceutical research, production and distribution. The country can offer unique benefits to UK companies in the pharmaceuticals sector, including direct access to internationally renowned scientists, outstanding research units, and major international markets.
Growth in the online market
The German food and drink industry is highly competitive, but until now has also been relatively conservative in its operating models. The introduction of new technology and digitalisation has helped to change this and resulted in the number of imports from the UK increasing.
Increasing demand for goods from other countries
The German public is becoming more open to new tastes and flavours. Food and drink imports from the UK remain concentrated at the medium to high end of the market, but interest is growing steadily, enabling the range of products to increase.
Opportunities for specialist sectors
Specialist sectors such as vegan, organic and free from foods are becoming increasingly popular in Germany. There is a building demand for low and alcohol-free spirits, which reflects European trends. As in most European countries, the demand for private label products is increasing. This is visible throughout the supermarket chains and discounters. As the UK is one of the leading private label products manufacturers, there is considerable potential in this sector.
Growth due to innovative sales methods
E-commerce is growing fast in Germany, especially among consumers aged 50 plus; a major group with strong purchasing power. Demand is also increasing in mobile commerce, social media shopping and innovative omnichannel sales solutions.
World-leading trade fairs
Germany hosts some of the world’s largest trade fairs across all consumer sectors. Just some examples include streetwear and sustainable fashion at Berlin Fashion Week, living, dining and giving at Ambiente Frankfurt, jewellery and luxury at Inhorgenta Munich and child and baby at Kind und Jugend Cologne.
Major growth areas in the 2020s are homewares and interiors, personal care and cosmetics, and DIY and gardening.
Growth potential for offshore wind
Offshore wind will increase from 20GW to 30GW by 2030, 40GW in 2035, and 70GW in 2045. Upcoming opportunities include marine geophysical, geotechnical and environmental survey services, design planning and engineering services, CTVs, SOVs, logistic and transport services. There will also be opportunities in remote and autonomous technological solutions enabling condition monitoring and maintenance and blade recycling.
German H2 strategy envisages 5 Gigawatts (GW) of generating capacity by 2030, plus 5 GW by 2035 to 2040 latest. A new supply chain and innovative solutions are required to replace the fossil resource in ~217 Terrawatt power for industry alone. €9bn funding (€2bn dedicated to R and D) are allocated to build it.
Photovoltaic and solar thermal
New developments in photovoltaic and solar thermal opportunities are emerging due to targeted expansion of solar power to around 200GW by 2030, compared to 54GW installed capacity in Q4 2020. In future, solar power installation will become mandatory on commercial property, and encouraged on domestic building