Ladies and gentlemen,
I’m delighted to welcome you here to the Federal Foreign Office Weltsaal. The Foreign Trade Congress for Food and Agriproducts is taking place for the seventh time this year. To me, that highlights two things: firstly, it demonstrates the excellent cooperation among the Federal Foreign Office, the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Federation of German Food and Drink Industries. Secondly, it shows how much we all value this Congress – as a forum of exchange between the business community and policy-makers.
The food and agriculture industry is one of our country’s key sectors. It guarantees stability, prosperity and jobs. What’s more, over 80 million consumers know that they can rely on the industry to supply them every day. The branch is the third largest industry in Germany.
But it’s a leader not only here at home but also in Europe. You and your companies, ladies and gentlemen, are already European champions!
There’s currently fierce competition on the football pitch for that very title. What makes me personally hopeful about Euro 2016 is that anyone who like our national side has grown up with your products, ladies and gentlemen – whether it be milk from Bavaria, potatoes from Hesse or pumpernickel from Westphalia – should have the necessary energy to reach the final. In the first match, Neuer, Schweinsteiger, Mustafi and co. demonstrated what they’re capable of and what they’re prepared to do!
Ladies and gentlemen,
Despite, or rather due to its strength over many years as well as demographic trends, the branch’s potential for growth isn’t infinite. In addition to this, changes in consumer behaviour and the high level of price sensitivity make bold growth forecasts about domestic sales impossible. Policy-makers and the business community have promptly recognised the signs of the times and are relying ever more on exports as an engine for growth. We have to continue promoting this engine. That’s why we’re here today!
Last year, one third of the food industry turnover came from abroad. And that figure is set to rise. The greatest potential lies in the markets outside the EU. A growth in turnover of 6% in third countries as a whole and as high as around 12% specifically in Asia underscores a trend. It’s precisely this development which we want to focus on today – with country fora, for example on Japan, Viet Nam and the United Arab Emirates.
We all know that it’s not easy to tap into new markets. It brings with it risks and uncertainties.
That’s why we’re supporting you as entrepreneurs!
The Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, for example, does so via its export promotion programme or the foreign trade fair programme.
The Federal Foreign Office’s main asset in the promotion of trade abroad is our network of German missions abroad: 228 around the world! Our colleagues act as political mentors, door-openers and advisers.
When I travel abroad, I’m often accompanied by representatives from the food and agriculture industry. Only last week, a citrus fruit trader accompanied me to Argentina and Mexico. It was an interesting exchange for us all!
I’m convinced that the business community and policy-makers need to undertake efforts to further advance the food industry’s export trade. For we’re most successful where bold and clever entrepreneurial initiative meets targeted, long-term support from policy-makers.
So let us use this Congress to engage in exchange and dialogue as well as to develop new ideas! We’re looking forward to it!
Allow me to close by coming back to Euro 2016. I hope that Jogi Löw – and more importantly, the team’s chef – knows what he has to do to ensure that the players consume a large portion of vitamins before the match this evening. We have faith in good products grown in German fields, but today we’re particularly keen to see some German goals. Thank you very much.