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Foreign Direct Investment

Germany is considered an attractive country for foreign direct investment, but in recent years the influx of FDI has been hampered by the global recession and subsequent Eurozone crisis. According to the 2022 World Investment Report by UNCTAD, FDI inflows into Germany more than halved in 2021, totaling USD 31.26 billion against USD 64.59 billion one year earlier. The stock of FDI increased slightly in 2021 to over USD 1.1 trillion. The country has traditionally been a key investor: after declining sharply in 2020, Germany's outward investment reached USD 151.6 billion in 2021, marking a 150.2% increase year-on-year. According to data from the national Trade and Investment Agency (GTAI), Germany’s federal states registered 1,806 FDI projects (excluding M&A) in 2021 - a 7% rise compared to the previous year. In the same year, the number of projects (1,851) rebounded almost fully compared to pre-COVID levels, with 1,806 international companies setting up shop in Germany in the form of greenfield investments.
FDIs in Germany are mostly owned by Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the U.S., Switzerland and the UK, which represent more than 60% of the total stock. France, Ireland, Italy, Austria, and Japan are also investing in the country. FDIs are mainly oriented towards finance and insurance, manufacturing and trade, information and communication, management and consultancy activities, and real estate. The latest data from OECD shows that in the fist half of 2022 FDI inflows to Germany reached a total of USD 17.7 billion, more than eight times higher compared to the second half of the previous year. In 2022, Intel and Northvolt announced massive expansion projects, which were worth at least EUR 17 billion and EUR 4 billion respectively.

Among the country’s strengths are a highly powerful and diversified industrial network, a highly skilled workforce with a good command of English, reliable infrastructure, a favourable social climate, a stable legal framework and a location at the heart of Europe. Its main weaknesses are a high tax rate (for both individuals and businesses), rather inflexible labour laws, and the high dependence on the automotive and mechanical industries. The Economist Business Environment ranking puts Germany in the 13th place out of 82 countries in terms of business environment. However, The Economist notes that the country is more exposed than most other large high-income economies to the near-term fallout and energy risks from the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Constraints on the ranking include a high tax burden on labour income and on firms, combined with high administrative costs. Germany ranks 8th among the 132 economies on the Global Innovation Index 2022 and 14th out of 177 countries on the 2023 Index of Economic Freedom.

Foreign Direct Investment 201920202021
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 52,66564,58931,267
FDI Stock (million USD) 963,5671,107,8391,139,106
Number of Greenfield Investments* 8601,0771,118
Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD) 21,32425,91740,527

Source: UNCTAD - Latest available data.

Note: * Greenfield Investments are a form of Foreign Direct Investment where a parent company starts a new venture in a foreign country by constructing new operational facilities from the ground up.

Country Comparison For the Protection of Investors Germany OECD United States
Index of Transaction Transparency* 5.0 6.5 7.0
Index of Manager’s Responsibility** 5.0 5.3 9.0
Index of Shareholders’ Power*** 5.0 7.3 9.0

Source: Doing Business - Latest available data.

Note: *The Greater the Index, the More Transparent the Conditions of Transactions. **The Greater the Index, the More the Manager is Personally Responsible. *** The Greater the Index, the Easier it Will Be For Shareholders to Take Legal Action.


What to consider if you invest in Germany

Strong Points

Germany's strengths for FDI are:

  • Strategic location in the centre of Europe
  • Political stability and a good anchor in international relations
  • The largest population of the European Union
  • Infrastructure among the most developed in the European Union
  • Strong manufacturing base (almost a third of the GDP)
  • Strong exports (high range products and diversified clients)
  • Advanced technology and expertise
  • Highly qualified work force
  • Consolidated public finances
  • Competitive taxation.
Weak Points

Germany's weaknesses for FDI are:

  • Eastern part of the Germany (former DDR) is struggling to catch up with the western part in many areas
  • Ageing population weighs heavily on growth
  • German economy is highly dependant on exports, especially to China
  • Ageing infrastructure
  • Unproductive service sector
  • Insufficient infrastructure for development of start-ups
  • A low investment/GDP ratio
  • Lack of engineers
Government Measures to Motivate or Restrict FDI
Germany distinguishes itself with a business climate compliant with international standards and with transparency of its judicial system. The German Government is implementing measures aimed at encouraging investments including:

  • Grants for investments (Cash Incentives Program: GRW)
  • Grants for R&D for different research categories (fundamental research, industrial research, experimental development)
  • Grants for hiring personnel (programs focusing on recruitment support, training support, wage subsidies and on-the-job training)
  • Public loans
  • Public guarantees

For more information, visit the website of Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI).


Investment Opportunities

The Key Sectors of the National Economy
Consumer goods, since the number of inhabitants is the highest in Europe. Subcontracted goods, as Germany is the the leading producer of machine tools. This sector may see a new boom thanks to the development of numerical industrial processes. The other key sectors are: advanced materials, aerospace industry, agriculture, automobile industry, pharmaceutical and chemical industry, wholesale, retail, online trade.
High Potential Sectors
Services to consumers, high-tech, multimedia, electronic, health and biotechnologies, renewable energies (ambitious plan of development in solar, wind and renewable energy storage)
Privatization Programmes
There is no privatisation program ongoing. As a matter of principle, Germany treats foreigners equally in privatisations.
Tenders, Projects and Public Procurement
Tenders Info, Tenders in Germany
Ted - Tenders Electronic Daily, Business opportunities in EU
DgMarket, Tenders Worldwide

Sectors Where Investment Opportunities Are Fewer

Monopolistic Sectors
Education. State-owned enterprises are limited to basic services (water, energy and national rail transportation).
Sectors in Decline
Wood, steel and iron industries.

Finding Assistance For Further Information

Investment Aid Agency
Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI) 
Other Useful Resources
Investment Guide to Germany (GTAI)
Doing Business Guides
Doing Buisness and investing in Germany (PwC)