Fira in Germany, Europe’s engine room

FEBRUARY 2012

13-05-01Germany is the world’s fourth most powerful economy and the second largest exporter. The crisis has made it stronger, as it has become the potential motor for recovery in the European Union: in 2011, German Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased by 3% and the public deficit rose by only 1% of GDP.
Opportunities in the German market

After France, Germany is Spain’s second largest trading partner. According to the German Chamber of Commerce in Spain, there are over 1,000 companies in Spain generating a turnover of 70,000 million euros. Furthermore, Spain attracts more than 10 million German tourists every year.

13-05-02We talked to Matthias Poensgen, the head of the Fira de Barcelona office in Germany, about the opportunities offered by the German market.

How would you describe the trading relationship between Spain and Germany?
Bilateral relations have increased in recent years, with a turnover of over 56,000 million euros in 2010, 12.7% more than in the previous year. Spain is one of the leading producers and exporters to Germany for parts for the automobile industry, as well as food, wine, fruit and vegetables, among other items.

What business opportunities are opening up for Spanish businesses? In which economic sectors?
The leading sectors with the most growth are automobiles, machinery, electronics and chemistry. However, new sectors with a great deal of potential have appeared in recent years, such as biomedical technology, logistics and the areas related to renewable energies. The tertiary sector, and especially tourism, has many business opportunities: Spain is one of the main destinations for German tourists.

Recommendations for entrepreneurs who want to enter the German market.
First contact the official bodies such as Germany Trade & Invest all over Spain or ACC1Ó in Catalonia for the right advice on legal and bureaucratic issues. It is important to understand how business is done in Germany: time and planning are essential for success, and that has to start when contacting customers and obtaining all the information with a plenty of room for manoeuvre to ensure a good business relationship.

Germany has become Europe’s potential economic driving force for coping with the crisis. How do the country’s businesses see this?
The crisis is affecting all the countries in Europe. Germany has been implementing an action plan with measures to limit most of its effects since 2008. Although foreign trade has decreased, the expectations for 2012 are reassuring for the German economy. However, German companies are currently very aware of the economic situation, and they study the market carefully before making investments. The crisis affecting Spain means that decisions are taken with more caution. We are sure that German investment will increase when the Spanish market stabilizes and shows signs of improvement.

13-05-03What is Fira de Barcelona’s image in Germany?
Germany is a country with a long-standing trade fair tradition, and despite the challenge involved in competing with the German shows, the level of participation by German companies at Fira de Barcelona trade fairs is always satisfactory. Events like Hostelco, Construmat, Hispack, Expoquimia and Piscina are important events on the calendars of many of the country’s companies. German exhibitors are happy with Fira and have a positive view of its office in their own country that provides a more personalized service in their own language, and the wide range of services that makes their participation easy.

And Barcelona?
Barcelona is always attractive to businesses. Its good communications links with the rest of Europe and the world makes visiting the city easy and participating in fairs very attractive. As well as its range of culture, architecture and entertainment, the food is one of the aspects of Barcelona that Germans like most. The city is fashionable, it has become a symbol of “cool,” modern design and continuous development.

M.G.D.