Exporting to Germany
Strong trade partnership
Germany is the UK’s second largest export market for goods and services and second largest trading partner, accounting for more than 10.2 % of all UK trade in 2019 (ONS, 2019). During that period, total trade between the UK and Germany was worth £136 billion.
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, mobility, cyber threats and supply chains. There is demand in areas of UK strength such as big data, artificial intelligence, cyber security, food and drink, consumer goods 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.
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 in 'future mobility', meeting the transport needs of the future. Volkswagen is investing €30 billion until 2023 with the aim of transforming 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.
Health and life sciences
Germany offers one of Europe’s largest markets for healthcare and life sciences products, with health expenditure accounting for 10.3% of GDP in 2018 (German Federal Statistics Office, 2019). 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, are 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.
Food and drink
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 and free from foods are becoming increasingly popular in Germany. As in most European countries, the demand for private label products is increasing too and this is visible throughout the supermarket chains and discounters. As the UK is one of the leading manufacturers in private label products, 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: 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.