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MIL OSI Translation. Region: Germany / Deutschland –

Source: Destatis Federal Statistical Office

Press release No.N 069 of October 28, 2020

Import volume increased by 15% from 2017 to 2019
Almost 10% of foreign controlled companies in Germany have parent companies in the USA

WIESBADEN – The United States of America has remained the most important customer for German goods over the past three years. As reported by the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), German exports to the USA have increased by 6% since 2017. Last year, goods worth 118.7 billion euros were exported to the United States. The value was thus again higher than in the two previous years (2018: 113.3 billion; 2017: 111.8 billion euros). Total German exports increased by 3.8% from 2017 to 2019.

In 2017, 2018 and 2019, Germany had the highest export surpluses with the United States in a country comparison. That means that not only were more goods exported there than imported from the USA, the difference was also greater than for any other country in the world. The 2019 export surplus in trade in goods was 47.3 billion euros. By way of comparison: Germany’s total external balance surplus has declined in the past four years – from 249 billion euros in 2016 to 223 billion euros in 2019. The most important trade goods for export to the USA in recent years have been cars and car parts, followed by Machinery and pharmaceutical products.

Imports from the USA increased to 71.4 billion euros in 2019

The volume of imports from the United States has also increased in the past three years: from 61.9 billion euros in 2017 to 71.4 billion euros last year (+ 15%). For comparison: German imports as a whole increased by 7.1% from 2017 to 2019. The most important import goods from the USA in recent years have included data processing equipment, electrical and optical products, automobiles and automobile parts, and other vehicles (e.g. aircraft).

Since 1950, the United States has been one of Germany’s ten most important trading partners in terms of foreign trade turnover – the sum of imports and exports of goods. since 1993 they have consistently belonged to the top 5 countries.

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Almost 10% of foreign controlled companies have parent companies in the US

The USA not only plays a special role as a foreign trade partner, there are also close economic ties between Germany and the United States on the corporate side. In 2018, almost 10% of the total of 26,828 foreign-controlled companies in Germany belonged to a parent company based in the United States. In 2018, the USA played a prominent role outside of Europe. Only in Switzerland – which, however, is one of the EFTA countries – was the proportion higher at more than 12%. Almost 60% of the German foreign-controlled companies belonged to a group of companies in 2018 whose parent company was based in EU countries.

Companies controlled abroad in Germany in 2018 by headquarters of the parent company in selected continents (Inward FATS)

Share of all foreign controlled companies in Germany in%
EU 28 countries
including, for example
United Kingdom
Non-EU countries (e.g. Switzerland, Turkey, Russia)
North and Central America (including the United States)
other continents

The 2,675 commercial enterprises – excluding financial and insurance services – headquartered in the United States employed around 640,000 people in Germany. In 2018 they generated sales of around EUR 295 billion and gross value added at factor costs of EUR 71 billion. This means that in 2018 these companies had a share of 21% of the gross value added of all foreign-based companies in Germany. For comparison: the share of gross value added was roughly twice as high as that of companies headquartered in the United Kingdom or France.

German companies with parent companies in the United States according to aggregated economic sectors

Active people
Gross value added at factor cost
Gross investment in property, plant and equipment
in billions of euros
A total of
639 069
Commerce and hospitality
160 557
Manufacturing and other manufacturing industries
315 611
Selected service areas (including without the provision of financial and insurance services)
1 321
162 901

Conversely, according to Bundesbank figures, around 4,559 companies in the United States were controlled by German investors in 2018. Around 791,000 people were employed in these companies, generating annual sales of 497 billion euros.

Methodological notes:

The “gross value added at factor cost” includes the gross income from operating activities, adjusted for operating subsidies and indirect taxes; Value adjustments, such as depreciation, are not deducted.

In addition to the manufacturing industry, the non-financial commercial economy includes the rest of the manufacturing industry as well as trade and hospitality and the service sector without the provision of financial and insurance services.

Further information: You can find more information about foreign-controlled German companies at Topic page.

Information on the US beyond politics can be found in our Country profile.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.

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