Scotland: a trading nation

A plan for growing Scotland's exports.


Country Brief

Germany is Europe’s largest economy. Its consistently strong economic performance offers long‑term growth potential for Scottish businesses.

Germany is a similar market to Scotland with similar business risks and requirements. 

If your product or service is successful in Scotland and the UK, there’s a good chance it will be successful in Germany.

Key market information

Economic indicators  

GDP 2017*


GDP per capita 2017*


GDP annual growth rate 2013‑2017


GDP annual growth forecast 2018‑2023


Population 2017


Projected population growth 2017‑2050 (% change)


Average tariff 2016


Scotland’s exports to Germany 2017


Scotland’s exports to Germany 2017


Average annual growth in Scotland’s exports to Germany 2013‑2017


Country rank in Scotland’s exports 2017


Scotland's Top Export Sectors to Germany, 2017

Scotland's Top Exports to Germany Chart

Germany imports from the world


Germany’s goods and services imports 2017*


Germany average annual import growth 2013‑2017*



Germany Top 15 Import Sectors

Germany Top 15 Import Sectors

Sources: Economic indicators (World Bank, IMF World Economic Outlook), Scotland’s Exports (Export Statistics Scotland 2017), Country Imports (World Bank, UN Comtrade).

* denotes an indicator which has been converted into GB£ from US$ using the Bank of England’s average annual spot rate data. Note growth rates may vary depending on unit of currency used.

The German Economy

Germany has a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of more than €3 trillion. This makes it the largest economy in Europe and the fourth strongest economy in the world. In 2017, the country accounted for 28% of the euro area economy according to the IMF.

The economy is characterised by its small and medium‑sized enterprises (SMEs) “Mittelstand”. 

99.6% of all companies in Europe are SMEs, with most being family owned and passed from one generation to the next.(1)

Key economic indicators are:

  • The German economy has been growing moderately at 1.4% of GDP in 2018. (OECD) 
  • Exports as a % of Germany’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) were 47% in 2018. (OECD)
  • Germany has a low unemployment rate at 3.7% in 2017. (OECD).

The Department for International Trade’s guide to doing business in Germany can be found here

Strengths of the German market

Germany ranks 24th dropping from 20th out of the 190 countries in the World Bank rankings for ease of doing business in 2018.

  • The largest economy in Europe
  • Efficient business culture
  • Stable economy
  • Innovative

Benefits for Scottish businesses exporting to Germany

  • Long‑term growth potential
  • Similar market
  • High standard of living
  • Scottish and UK brands have a positive reputation

What Scotland exports to Germany

Germany is Scotland’s 4th largest export market. Exports to Germany were worth £2.3bn in 2017. 7.2% of Scotland’s total International exports. (Export Statistics Scotland).

The top 5 Scottish export sectors to Germany are:

  • Technology, Digital and Media
  • Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing
  • Chemical Sciences
  • Food and Drink
  • Life Sciences

Priority sectors in Germany for economic development include:

  • Transportation equipment
  • Chemical Sciences
  • ICT
  • Renewable Energy
  • Machinery and Equipment

Sectoral Opportunities

When compared to the export performance of similar countries (Norway, Finland, Ireland and Denmark), the German market presents potential export growth opportunities in the following subsectors:

  • Machinery and Equipment
  • Engineering Services
  • Transportation Equipment
  • Computer Programming
  • Financial and Business Services
  • Manufacturing of computer, electronic and optical products 
  • Chemical Sciences 

Infographic of Germany's Top Opportunities

Existing in-market support for Scottish businesses in Germany

Scottish Government Network of External Offices and Scottish Development International

The Scottish Government opened an office in Berlin in the Autumn of 2018. The office is a central point for the Scottish Government to engage across Germany and central Europe and adds to the existing network of SG offices in Europe (London, Dublin, Paris, Brussels). The office jointly houses Scottish Government and Scottish Development International staff and is located at Wilhelmstraße 70 in central Berlin.

As well as strengthening diplomatic relations the Berlin office also increases the potential to explore further research and innovation links by:

  • promoting investment between German and Scottish businesses and organisations; 
  • increasing Scottish Government influence and engagement with Germany;
  • encouraging collaboration between business, research, education and cultural institutions; and
  • building on Scotland’s reputation as a destination of choice to work, study and visit.

Scottish Development International also has an office in Dusseldorf with 4 members of staff supporting trade focused on the energy, science and tech and consumer industry sectors.


There are currently 13 GlobalScots in Germany covering a range of sectors, including; life sciences, finance and business services, chemical sciences, engineering, creative industries, construction and energy. Germany is a priority country for expansion of the GlobalScot network.

Department for International Trade

Contact the Department for International Trade team in Germany for more information and advice on opportunities for doing business in Germany.

The British Chamber of Commerce Germany can also offer member companies advice and introductions in the German markets through their office based in Berlin.

University links

Germany is the top EU partner for research collaboration with Scotland through the EU’s flagship Horizon 2020 Research & Innovation programme and there are many long standing high quality collaborations across Scottish and German universities.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Photonics is the first Fraunhofer Institute to be located in the UK, and is located at Technology and Innovation Centre, University of Strathclyde.

The University of St. Andrewssigned a strategic partnership  with the University of Bonn in December 2018. Staff and students from St Andrews will be given the opportunity to research, teach and study at Bonn, and vice‑versa.



(1) BDI


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