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Article - Promotion of Foreign Trade and Investment

Export initiatives: Finding new markets


The Economic Affairs Ministry’s export promotion services help small and medium-sized enterprises to develop new markets abroad. The programme caters to forward looking industries such as energy, environmental technology, healthcare and civil security, but also to more traditional industries. Companies are able to combine different modules, and are able to choose the right services in line with their individual needs.

More and more SMEs are venturing abroad. They particularly want to develop and secure new markets. And the statistics show that they are successful: since 2000, sales abroad by SMEs have risen by nearly 40% to €200 billion. Companies wishing to succeed by selling niche products abroad have particularly good prospects: Germany has 1,300 “hidden champions” – small and mid-sized world market leaders in the fields of electrical equipment, mechanical engineering and industrial products.

The main driving force for success on foreign markets is always the company’s own efforts: they need to be able to rely on a good product, a promising strategy and reliable financing.

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) supports German firms in a variety of ways: e.g. in the form of trade policy measures which facilitate access to foreign markets or by supporting specific activities at all export stages.

The range of support measures offered by the BMWK have been efficiently coordinated and bundled together under the new umbrella initiative “Mittelstand Global” (Global SMEs). The SME market entry programme is intended for small and medium-sized companies across the economy and offers additional support in important sectors of the future, such as environmental technology, the health economy and civil security technologies and services. The sector specific Energy Export Initiative promotes the market potential of German energy technologies abroad and covers all kinds of environmentally friendly energy solutions.

Additional services, such as the foreign trade fair programme, information on foreign markets provided by Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI), advisory services provided by foreign chambers of commerce, and export credit guarantees (“Hermes Cover”) complete the foreign trade promotion services of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK). Export initiatives and market entry programmes are divided into modules that can be used separately and combined with each other.

SMEs are an important pillar of the German economy

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per cent
of all companies in Germany export products and services - 97% of these are SMEs

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per cent
of the total export turnover is generated by SMEs

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per cent
additional export turnover has been achieved by SMEs since 2000

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billion euros
turnover is achieved by SMEs abroad. This corresponds to 20.4% of their total turnover

Energy Export Initiative

Global opportunities for “Energy solutions made in Germany”

The Energy Export Initiative helps companies in the energy sector, especially in the fields of renewable energy, energy efficiency, smart grids and storage technologies, to enter foreign markets. The focus is also shifting to new technologies like power-to-gas and fuel cells. It combines the former Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Initiatives, broadening the scope.

The services of the Energy Export Initiative are mainly intended for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are based in Germany and wish to enter foreign markets with their products and technologies. The Export Initiative offers a comprehensive thematic and market-specific package to respond to its specific needs. This includes information events in Germany and business trips abroad organised by chambers of commerce.

Competitive exhibitions and flagship projects within the frame of the dena-Renewable-Energy-Solutions Programme (dena-RES) and a special trade fair programme allow German companies to present their products abroad.

A continued education programme for foreign managers offers further opportunities in the pre-market phase and the market entry.

The project development programme for developing and emerging economies is particularly noteworthy. It specifically supports companies in the difficult phase of market development, pre-marketing and market entry in these countries.

Energy Export Initiative - Facts and figures

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events and projects
per year

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business representatives
from 700 companies participate in events each year

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per cent
additional export turnover has been achieved by SMEs since 2000

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million euros
is spent on the Energy Export Initiative's programmes each year.

Market Entry Programme

Many sectors, many countries - a market entry programme for new markets

The market entry programme supports events and projects organised for small and medium-sized companies, in particular in traditional sectors and industry branches. It includes self-employed professionals, technical professions and business-related service providers. It aims to provide concrete support for companies entering or positioning themselves in new foreign markets.

Small and medium-sized companies can use the modules available under the Market Entry Programme – which are tailored to specific subjects and markets – at all stages of the exporting process and in the way that best fits their needs. Information events in Germany provide SMEs with detailed information on legal issues, taxes, customs duties and the financing available in their chosen market, and on specific industries such as shipbuilding in Indonesia.

Fact-finding and match-making missions to the chosen country and market analyses help companies gain a good overview of the economic environment and the legal framework on the ground. Furthermore, these missions give companies the opportunity to directly meet potential clients and business partners and contact public institutions.

Information trips by foreign decision makers and visits by procurement officers from foreign companies to Germany, as well as the holding of showcase events abroad, provide good opportunities for companies to present their products, services and flagship projects to an expert audience.

Worker in front of containers symbolizes Promotion of foreign trade and investment; Source: Getty Images/Yur_Arcurs


Promotion of foreign trade and investment

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Healthcare Export Initiative

Get fit with German expertise - targeted support for new sales markets

Germany has experienced decades of success exporting healthcare products and services. Globalisation, however, is creating new challenges for companies. The Healthcare Export Initiative is therefore targeting SMEs that are entering foreign markets and are creating new networks at home and abroad.

The Healthcare Export Initiative is particularly targeted at the specific needs of small and medium-sized companies in Germany. Its thematic and market specific offers focus on sectors like medicinal products, medical technology, medical biotechnology and the digital healthcare sector.

The bilingual online portal of the Healthcare Export Initiative l (German/Englisch) provides specialist information on healthcare sectors abroad and current market developments.

Companies will find comprehensive marketing and networking support from “Health - made in Germany” at relevant trade fairs, international congresses and special information events.

Four working groups (medicines, medical technology, medical biotechnology and digital healthcare) are at the centre of the Export Initiative. These co-operate with specialists and focus on specific target countries and measures.

Civil Security Technologies and Services Export Initiative

More global security - better competitive opportunities for SMEs abroad

The Civil Security Technologies and Services Export Initiative supports companies as they venture into new markets abroad. One of the goals is to raise the profile of German security technologies and services outside of Germany.

The Export Initiative offers small and medium-sized companies sector-specific modules that provide support specifically as these companies are positioning themselves in foreign markets.

This includes information events in Germany on the relevant foreign markets, involving both German and local experts, business initiation trips to selected markets in order to establish first contacts with potential clients, importers and sales partners, and specialised information trips and fact-finding missions to Germany for decision-makers from industry, politics, state administration or the media of selected target countries.

Workshops and exhibitions in selected target regions and bilateral cooperation with other countries at large events round off this list of modules.

Environmental Technologies Export Initiative

German Environmental Technologies are a success story abroad

The Environmental Technologies Export Initiative covers areas that have not yet been included into a special Export Initiative. This includes water management, sustainable mobility, the recycling economy and air/noise pollution control. Under this initiative, small and medium-sized enterprises are provided with a range of specific services that help them break into emerging and developing markets.

The modules available under the Environmental Technologies Export Initiative are tailored to specific subjects and markets and are designed in a way that ensures that small and medium-sized companies can use them in line with their needs and at all stages of the market development process. At the same time, they are to help foreign decision-makers find concrete answers to any question they may have about the German market.

Information events in Germany provide detailed reports on the environment market and the conditions in specific target markets.

The first priority of these market development and business initiation trips abroad is to establish contact with decision-makers, business partners and clients.

Exhibitions abroad and information trips by foreign decision-makers to Germany enable participating companies to present their products and services to a professional audience.

skyline of shanghai; Source: Getty Images/DANNY HU