Meeting Up

Meeting Up

Two Business Men Having a Conversation | © iStockphoto

Source: Two Business Men Having a Conversation | © iStockphoto

Commercial Agents and Importers

One way to make first business contacts in Germany is to plan a market entry via commercial agent or importer. Local commercial agents can contract with you to approach potential business customers in a particular sector and thus open the door to trade in Germany. Both commercial agents and importers can help to reduce the risks of market entry, by cutting the costs of travel and having to open a German subsidiary while offering the advantages of being located in Germany, speaking German and possessing valuable knowledge of the German market.

Germany's National Association of German Commercial Agencies and Distribution (CDH) has set up a web-portal which simplifies the search for commercial agents. Additionally, the Federation of German Wholesale and Foreign trade (BGA) can assist with contacting import trading companies in Germany. Additional information on the German Retail and Wholesale Industry is available in our business sector profile.

The newly established Import Promotion Desk (IPD) is the platform of the Federal Republic of Germany for the promotion of imports. The IPD connects German importers with small and medium-sized international trade players from selected developing countries and emerging nations. The IPD's goal is the sustainable and well-structured import promotion of specific products from selected partner countries under compliance with high quality, social, and environmental standards. Currently, the IPD supports exporting businesses from Colombia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Peru and Tunisia in the areas of fruit and vegetables, natural ingredients, technical wood, and flowers. More information about the IPD can be found in the iXPOS section "Contacts and Networks."

Online Marketplaces

A wide variety of publicly-funded German online marketplaces exist, which are valuable resources for companies searching for relevant business contacts in Germany while still abroad.

The iXPOS Business Community is an online platform for businesses in all economic sectors. It enables both German and foreign companies to advertise their products and services as well as to search for the products and services they need. In addition, the Business Community provides companies and entrepreneurs the possibility to create their own profile, participate in the forum, find business contacts, and interact with all members of the community.

The Enterprise Europe Network offices in each of the German states also maintains online databases of local German companies looking for international business partners. Thus, if you are interested in doing business in a particular region in Germany, be sure to contact the relevant EEN branch office for further assistance.

Businesses planning on serving the German public sector can search a variety of online tender databases, several of which are available in English. Links to the most important ones are listed on the right.

The ''Distribution Channels/Finding Providers'' and ''Supporting Institutions'' sections of our business sector profiles provide additional information and links for locating other companies active in the respective field. If you need further assistance finding sector-specific databases and contacts, please contact us directly by clicking the "Information Center" button on the right.

The German Chamber Network

For companies and individuals planning to do business in Germany, the German Chamber Network abroad (AHK) is the first point of contact. The German Chambers abroad are located at all places of strategic importance to German industry and businesses in 85 countries and have been serving their members for well over 100 years. The AHKs are independent membership institutions which provide a wide range of services promoting trade with Germany. These include, among other things, establishing business contacts, supporting German trade missions, organizing joint stands for international trade fairs in Germany, providing professional training, and organizing a host of business meetings, congresses, and seminars. As a result of its broad international network of affiliated institutions, the AHKs are able to draw upon a broad spectrum of expert advice on both German and global markets when serving their members.

Another excellent source of information for companies planning business activities in Germany are the various mandatory professional organizations. Since German businesses must register with their respective professional organization/s (Berufskammer), their business directories are of particular interest for international companies looking for business contacts in a specific business sector or region. These organizations are semi-autonomous, public organizations authorized to regulate and supervise the professions governed by them. They are also responsible for representing the public interests of their members and offer a variety of specialized consulting services to their members, including start-up support, vocational and professional training and advice on international trade and legal issues.

  • The Chambers of Skilled Trades and Crafts (HWKs) are the public organizations responsible for skilled trades businesses which either produce individually manufactured products or provide customized services (i.e. the work of carpenters, hair stylists, electricians, etc.).
  • The liberal professions are organized and regulated by branch-specific professional organizations. These occupations include the health professions, legal consulting professions, construction and architectural services, writers, translators, freelance educators and artists. A complete list of the relevant organizations is available in German on the website of the federal association of liberal professions (BFB).
  • The Chambers of Agriculture (Landwirtschaftskammern) represent the farming and forestry businesses in the northern and western German states. An index of all the State Chambers of Agriculture in Germany is available in German on their website.
  • The Chambers of Industry and Commerce (IHKs) are responsible for all other commercial undertakings.

In addition to these public professional organizations, profession-related interests are also represented by ''free'' (private) associations, which are not authorized to supervise their professions, but do provide a variety of sector-specific support and information. For this purpose, they too can be a very useful resource for international companies and entrepreneurs researching about and looking for contacts in the German market. Browse the ''Distribution Channels'' section of our business sector profiles to find the trade association/s active in your field and contact our information center if you need further assistance.

Trade Shows and Conferences

The Association of the German Trade Fair Industry (AUMA) revealed in the latest „German Trade Fair Industry Review 2013“, that over half (57%) of all exhibitors at trade shows in Germany came from abroad. Exhibitors from other European countries accounted for 53.3% of the total foreign exhibitor participation. This means that German trade shows (and their related conferences) serve as an important platform for businesses and customers otherwise difficult to contact from abroad. Consequently, trade shows in Germany provide foreign firms a gateway to both the German and the European internal markets.

As one of the world's leading trading nations, Germany is also an important location for renowned international trade fairs. Accentuated by its convenient location in the center of the Europe and its excellent infrastructure, Germany currently hosts three quarters of the world's leading trade shows and attracts a high percentage of international exhibitors and visitors every year. In addition to excellent business contacts, trade shows in Germany offer participants a wide variety of high-quality programs that often include expert forums, international conferences, and other events stimulating an active exchange of ideas and opinions about the latest business trends. Press conferences and the presence of high-ranking officials and economic leaders at these events highlight trendsetting innovations and new products which boost interest in and foster economic policy discussions.

The AUMA's website is your first stop when looking for further information on trade shows in Germany. Here, you can find information on trade fairs classified by business sector and location. Furthermore, the homepage provides helpful information about the trade fair industry in Germany, and offers interested companies tips to help them plan their marketing activities optimally.

iXPOS - The German Business Portal gives you direct access to the AUMA databank in order to help you find the right trade show for your business in Germany. On this database, you can look for specific trade fairs and exhibitions taking place in Germany and abroad. Just click on the "Exhibitions in Germany" section on the left and you can start searching for trade shows relevant to your business.

Useful information on which exhibition or trade fair is the best for your business's success is provided by the Society for Voluntary Control of Fair and Exhibition Statistics (FKM) on the AUMA website. The FKM independently gathers and publishes data and statistics about the German trade fair industry. As a result, businesses interested in participating in a German trade fair, thus, can easily compare the different trade shows and conferences offered for their business sector and then identify the one/s best suited to their needs.

Another option for contacting German firms abroad is to visit an international trade show where German companies are exhibiting. Every year German businesses exhibit at joint stands at around 250 trade fairs worldwide. An overview on the relevant trade fairs and the participating companies can be found on the German Pavilion's website.

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