Directorate-General for Economic Affairs

Germany is one of the world’s leading industrial countries. It also has one of the most open economies in the world. Almost every fourth job in Germany depends on external trade. At the same time, Germany is one of the world’s largest importers, as its manufacturing sector depends both on raw materials and primary products from international supplier industries.

An important task of the Federal Foreign Office is to pave the way for German firms to international markets. The prerequisites for an open, fair and sustainable global trading system are created through multilateral negotiations and agreements that ensure German companies equal access to markets all over the world. The Federal Foreign Office is involved in decisions on export licences made by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, which leads on this topic. This helps to prevent foreign policy problems (such as the breach of international commitments or exports that threaten international peace) and to protect the German economy from damage to its international reputation as a result of problematic exports. In decisions on arms exports, the Federal Foreign Office plays close attention to respect for human rights.

Overall, the German economy needs a stable and predictable international situation and the most amicable relations possible with global trade partners. For the work of the Federal Foreign Office, this means that successful foreign policy creates the conditions for successful international trade relations.

Success in international trade depends not least on effective trade promotion. The German system is characterised by a division of responsibilities between the state and business. 

In order to give German companies the best possible support, the network of German missions abroad works closely with the German Chambers of Commerce Abroad and the staff of Germany Trade & Invest.

In this context, the German embassies and consulates ensure worldwide coordination, maintain contacts with authorities in the host countries, endeavour to improve market access for German firms and, where necessary, assist them directly. This applies in particular to small and medium-sized enterprises.

Research and technology are also crucial to economic affairs in Germany. Only through high-level research, constant technological innovation and state-of-the-art production can Germany hope to hold its own in global markets in the future.

Whether this involves energy, climate and environmental policy (including the use of renewable energies), aviation and aerospace, high-speed transport, information and communications technology, or transport and tourism policy, the Federal Foreign Office is active in all these fields in maintaining and intensifying international relations – the basis for cooperation between German and foreign companies.

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