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Here are some basic facts about the country.
Germany is Europe’s largest economy and the world’s fifth largest. In 2012, the country’ GDP was estimated at USD 3.401 trillion. The GDP shrank in 2009 by 5.9% due to the world financial crisis. It recovered in 2010 to grow by 4.2% and 3.0% in 2011. However it was hit by the Euro crisis in 2012 and shrank 0.7%. Unemployment in 2012 was 5.5% and inflation was running at 2.1%.
Over the last 20 years, the government has spent USD 2 trillion on the rehabilitation of East Germany. However, there remains a marked economic divide between the east and the west of the country.
Germany has a very small agricultural sector that provides only 0.8% of GDP with industry providing 28% and services 78.2%. Key exports are machinery, vehicles, chemicals, metal manufacturing, foodstuffs and textiles.
Germany's main export partners include France, the UK, Netherlands, the USA, Italy, China, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, and Poland.
Its import partners are France, the Netherlands, Belgium, China, Italy, Austria, the UK, Russia, and the Czech Republic.
In 2010, Germany’ car manufacturing industry was worth USD 104.1billion. It grew 3.2% between 2006 and 2010. The forecast through to 2015 is growth of 3.2% reaching USD 122.1 billion by end-2015. The predictions got off to a slow start in the early years of the forecast but recent news has been extremely positive. December 2013 saw the western European car market grow by 13%, for the first time reaching double figures over the last four years. Domestic sales grew by 5%, and record sales were achieved in the USA.
German car companies are among the world class manufacturers, including Audi, BMW, Ford Germany, Mercedes Benz, Opel, Porsche, and Volkswagen.
The industry is maintaining its leading edge in innovation, taking 30% all the country's R&D spending. Upper midrange and luxury segments are leaders in the market. It has finally begun the development of more environmentally friendly vehicles.
Unlike car manufacturing, the German mechanical engineering industry is based dominated by small and medium size firms rather than by large companies. Around 88% of the 6000 companies in the sector employ less than 250 people. However with 965,000 employees it is the largest employer in the country and the workforce is recognised as being highly skilled.
The difficult world trading conditions of 2010 to 2012 saw slow trading as countries around the world cut back on investment. However recently there are signs of recovery. 76% of production goes to export bringing a trade surplus of $88 billion in 2011. With 17% of the global market Germany is the world leader ahead of the USA and Japan.
Together with other German industries, the electronics sector seems to be recovering from the setbacks of 2010 to 2012. Companies employ 1.5 million people worldwide with 800,000 of these jobs being in Germany. It produced a turnover of USD 224 billion in 2011 from the production of 100,000 different products.
Production is split between the following sectors: automotive and industrial electronics (64.7%), data processing 25%, telecoms 8.0%, and consumer electronics 2.3%.
Germany dominates the sector in Europe, and it is the world’s second only behind Japan. Prospects for the industry look good, with Germany is seen as the most attractive country for investment in Europe by 35% of companies, with Poland a long way behind with 10%.
Germany has the largest chemical company in the world – BASF. Other large companies include, Hoechst, Bayer and Lanxess. In 2010, it provided 25% of all European sales of EUR 180 billion. It is the 4th largest chemical producer in the world. The industry employed 423,000 people in 2011, and it is upbeat in its predictions for 2014 expecting 2% much better than the last two years.