Foreign trade

Foreign trade as a growth engine

More than almost any other country in the world, Germany is firmly integrated into global value chains and commodity flows. Every fourth job in Germany depends directly on foreign trade.

Exports and imports have reached new record highs every year.

At the same time the character of globalisation has changed. Over the past 20 years, there has been a comprehensive fragmentation of value chains. More than half of trade in goods and services is now accounted for by intermediate consumption. This has led to a growing dependence not only on raw materials but also on intermediate goods.

Foreign trade businesses open doors to difficult

and smaller markets where it would not be worthwhile for many manufacturers to have their own sales departement. International Trading Houses play a key role here. They have a long history

 and decades of experiences in doing business with these markets. Moreover they ensure global access to raw materials, intermediate goods and investment goods for the industrial, trade, retail and agricultural sectors.

Increasing Importance of Imports

In public discussions German foreign trade is often reduced to exports. This is accompanied by a frequent underestimation of the import side.Although Germany’s import dependency ratio was just under 17 per cent in the 1990s, since then it has doubled. Due to increasing globalisation, imports are more important than ever for the economy. Therefore the BGA is very much engaged in the promotion of imports.

A challenge for import trade

Limited own resources, insufficient information about the procurement markets, lack of knowledge of the possibilities to purchase the desired products reliably and in the required quality and quantity: Small and medium-sized enterprises in particular face numerous challenges in the import trade.  In addition, the requirements for compliance with minimum environmental and social standards for imports from developing and emerging countries are steadily increasing. Small and medium-sized businesses need customised services to enable them to build sustainable trade relations with reliable suppliers. As the initiator of the ‘Import Promotion Desk’ (IPD), the BGA has kick-started development-oriented import promotion in Germany. The IPD is financed by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Regional cooperation by leading German business associations

When speaking with one voice German business are garanteed to be heard. Therefore there is a close cooperation among the leading German business associations when it comes to trade and investment issues abroard. The BGA, along with other leading German business associations, has been involved e.g. in the Asian region since 1999 through the Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business (APA). Here, we actively and cooperatively contribute our expertise especially with regard to SME interests and trade related issues. The BGA has also joined forces with the Federation of German Industries (BDI), the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK), the Association of German Banks and relevant regionally specialised associations. Our work with the North Africa Middle East Initiative of German Business (NMI), the Latin American Initiative of German Business (LAI) and the Sub-Saharan Africa Initiative of German Business (SAFRI) ensures that the concerns and competences of our members are represented internationally. This also ensures a worldwide network of trade expertise and contacts.

Worldwide capacity building

For many years, the BGA has been committed to the institutional strengthening of private sector structures in developing countries. By means of what are known as chamber and association partnership projects, which are financed by the BMZ, the BGA is actively engaged in in an advisory capacity in countries such as Peru, Ghana and Ivory Coast. We support the respective partner institutions in shaping positive legal, administrative and institutional conditions for entrepreneurs. This will increase the competitiveness of local companies, especially small and medium-sized businesses, and allow them to expand into national and international supply chains.

IPD - Cost- and risk-optimised sourcing from new markets

Import Promotion Desk (IPD) is the initiative for import promotion in Germany. It serves as a link between German and European importers and exporters from selected developing countries and emerging nations. IPD accompanies its clients during the entire procurement process with the aim of a sustainable and well-structured import promotion - in compliance with high quality, social and environmental standards. IPD has been initiated by sequa, a globally operating development organisation in close cooperation with the Federation of German Wholesale, Foreign Trade and Services (BGA). IPD is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).


averages the
in German exports