Why does Germany import and export

globalization

In absolute numbers and proportions in percent, 2015

Source: Federal Statistical Office: Summary overviews for foreign trade
License: cc by-nc-nd / 3.0 / de /

In 2015, more than half of Germany's exports came from just four product groups: vehicles and vehicle parts, machines, chemical products and data processing equipment, electronic and optical products (together 50.6 percent). In a different order, these four product groups were also the most important for imports (together 37.1 percent). A breakdown of the traded goods according to their use shows that German foreign trade is predominantly determined by so-called investment and intermediate goods.

Facts

In 2015, Germany exported goods worth 1,194 billion euros. A third of exports came from just two product groups: cars and car parts (19.0 percent) and machines (14.3 percent). If chemical products (9.1 percent) and data processing equipment, electronic and optical products (8.2 percent) are added, more than half of exports (50.6 percent) belonged to just four product groups. In 2015, the ten most important groups of export goods accounted for around four-fifths of total exports (79.3 percent).

An important basis for the dominance of exports of motor vehicles and motor vehicle parts is their macroeconomic importance: According to the Federal Statistical Office, there were 1,312 companies in Germany in 2014 with 20 or more employees that produced motor vehicles and motor vehicle parts. Around 797,000 people worked here. In terms of exports in 2014, the USA (13.6 percent), the United Kingdom (11.9 percent) and China (10.7 percent) were the most important customer countries for vehicles and vehicle parts.

Imports to Germany are somewhat less concentrated on individual goods. A total of six product groups - data processing equipment, electronic and optical products (10.8 percent), vehicles and vehicle parts, chemical products, machinery, oil and natural gas, and metals (5.6 percent) - accounted for almost half of imports in 2015 (49 , 1 percent). The ten most important groups of import goods accounted for a good two thirds of total imports in 2015 (68.2 percent). In recent years, the share of oil and gas in total imports has been significantly influenced by price changes. In 2013, the corresponding share was still 9.9 percent and thus in first place ahead of all other product groups (2015: 6.4 percent).

A breakdown of the traded goods according to their use shows that German foreign trade is predominantly determined by capital goods and intermediate goods. This applies to both export and import. According to the Federal Statistical Office, capital goods accounted for 45.8 percent of Germany’s total exports of goods in 2015. In the case of intermediate goods, the share was 29.5 percent. In terms of imports, the share of capital goods was also in first place in the same year. However, at 31.1 percent, the value was significantly lower than for export. The share of intermediate goods in total imports was 29.7 percent in 2015. Compared to exports, the proportions of energy (9.2 versus 2.1 percent) and agricultural goods (3.3 versus 0.9 percent) were relatively high for imports.

Data Source

Federal Statistical Office: Summary overviews for foreign trade

Terms, methodological notes or reading aids

Capital goods: Goods that are not intended for direct end use but are used for the production of goods, such as machines, technical systems or vehicles. They are used to maintain, improve or expand the production equipment of companies.

Intermediate goods: Goods that are consumed, processed or converted in the production process.

Information on the Trading partners Germany is available here ...