The year 2016 was a year of many “game changers” we all know too well.

Another surprise with some significance for the next years to come was unfolded when the German bureau of statistics released on February 24 2017 the official 2016 trade figures of Germany.

In fact, for the first time in German trade history, China became in 2016 the number one trade partner of Germany. Goods worth of almost 170 billion euros were exchanged in 2016 between the Federal Republic of Germany and the People Republic of China.

The silver medal went to France who exchanged goods and services worth of 167 billion Euros in 2016 with Germany as it became the number two trade partner of Germany.

The United States, which in 2015 was Germany’s biggest trade partner was relegated to third place with 165 billion euros of exports and imports between Germany and the US.

This is mainly due to the fact that Germany exported 7 billion euros less to the US than in 2015. Experts are divided if this reduction of exports to the US is due to Donald Trump being elected in November as new President of the United States: The election took place in November 2016 and the result of it came to a surprise to the vast majority of experts. But it certainly shows a trend. Significantly more important is that the new US President announced at more than one occasion that he is very unhappy about the trade deficit with Germany:

But fortunately for the German economy, more than half of its trade balance is due to exports and imports with European Union countries.

And Germany can be optimistic: in 2016 goods and services worth of 1 200 billion euros were exchanged between Germany and its trading partners. The trade balance grew 1.2 % from 2015 to 2016, for the third year in a row with a positive digit number.

But 2017 could be another year of political turmoil which could result in significant alterations of trade balances: France, Germany’s biggest neighbor on the other side of the Rhine, will have presidential elections in April and May this year and will have parliamentary elections in June of that same year. And for Germany, the federal elections will take place in September and could also bring surprises.

One thing remains sure: China’s economy, even so it does not grow anymore with two digit numbers as in the past, will not be pushed so easily away from its new first place as Germany’s biggest trade partner: China continues its strategy to buy high tech companies in Germany and continues to be very attractive for German companies to trade with.

Alhambra International fosters all these foreign trade exchanges, especially between European partners and also with Asia and more specifically with China, where our company has initiated a presence since the end of 2016. Foreign trade exchanges create good opportunities for companies to attract the best talents thanks to their operational expertise across many industries, international experience and multicultural mindset and to penetrate new markets. We strongly believe that these foreign exchanges contribute positively to employment and to bring a better future for the next generations.


Authors: Jean-Jacques Wendorff, Pierre Maurin