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Germany: 2nd most important export market

MG 1394 300x172We interviewed Júlia Farré, international business consultant, after the talk she gave, at the Valencian Chamber of Commerce, on the German market and finding a business partner there.

Are there opportunities on the German market?

Yes, of course there are. Looking at the figures, you can see that Germany ranks behind France as a destination for Spanish exports. As a result o the strength of German industrial production and their thriving export trade, the country has to import components for the automotive, chemical, machine-tool and pharmaceutical industries. The high standard of living also means that they are leading consumers of Spanish foodstuffs and wine. Therefore, there are openings for both industrial and consumer goods. Many Spanish firms see it as a very mature market and very inflexible.

Even under these circumstances, there are still opportunities?

These observations are correct and breaking into the market is not easy, but there are many Spanish SMEs that are working in and have consolidated a market there by fitting into the market, adapting their products and processes to meet the service and logistical expectations of German companies. A certain cultural sensitivity is also necessary and speaking German is a very big plus.

What are the main obstacles?

It is a demanding and exacting market in which precision and coherence are the order of the day, exceptions are most definitely frowned upon.

As a businessman, why should I export to Germany?

The short answer is that as the locomotive of Europe you should be there. Precisely because it is a demanding market, however, once established sales are regular and grow steadily. The country is politically and economically stable, export and work practices are similar to Spain in such questions as terms of payment, logistics, and currency, amongst others.

Why has the German economy weathered the crisis so well?

The Germans entrusted their economical model to exports and technological innovation several decades ago. Just to compare two regions with similar populations and industries, Catalunya and Bavaria, the latter exports three times as much as Catalunya. Despite a certain amount of relocating production to cheaper countries, Germany continues producing and purchasing. They also maintain very good relations with all the neighbouring countries, both in East and West Europe.

Do Spanish products still suffer from an image of low quality and rejection?

It’s true that, 20 years ago, Spain was regarded as an unreliable country. Nowadays, this has, to a large extent, changed. All Spanish industry has to do is adapt to the country and demonstrate that their worth, quality and service is the same as that of any other European manufacturer. From here on, it’s up to you.

How is this affected by the current economical climate?

Some of our German clients have told us that, after listening to the news that reaches them, they imagined they were going to arrive in a country with empty bars and the shops boarded up and are pleasantly surprised to see the restaurants still full. However, they do know that the situation here is complicated and that a knock-on effect has negative results for them too. There has been a natural increase in skepticism, but I do not feel that this will prove to be a disaster. Quite the contrary, exports to Germany increase year on year. Companies here should redouble their efforts to allay pre-conceived ideas about the country.