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Germany’s central financial institution says an extreme dependence on commerce with China is likely one of the essential explanation why the nation’s “enterprise mannequin is at risk”, including that prime power costs and labour shortages are additionally weakening Europe’s largest economic system.
The Bundesbank warned on Monday that 29 per cent of German corporations import important supplies and components from China, exposing their operations to “important” injury if this commerce route was disrupted because of “rising geopolitical tensions”.
“The previous few years have revealed the chance to financial improvement that comes from sturdy one-sided dependencies on major merchandise from overseas,” the central financial institution mentioned in its monthly report. “There may be nonetheless a necessity to cut back dependencies on China — particularly for major merchandise which can be very tough to exchange.”
The stark warning got here as Germany’s international minister Annalena Baerbock referred to as on Europe to cut back its reliance on China, voicing her help for the EU’s investigation into electrical automobile subsidies by Beijing.
“If you’re certain too carefully it may well endanger your self,” Baerbock advised Bloomberg TV on Monday.
Her remarks echoed the new China strategy adopted by Berlin in July, when corporations had been advised to cut back their dependence on Beijing and warned that the federal government wouldn’t choose up the tab in the event that they fell sufferer to mounting geopolitical dangers.
Faltering commerce with China, Berlin’s largest buying and selling accomplice, is likely one of the causes Germany’s economic system has contracted or stagnated for the previous 9 months and the IMF predicted it could be the worst performing main economic system this yr, forecasting progress to shrink by 0.3 per cent.
In a weekend interview with Welt am Sonntag, Chancellor Olaf Scholz blamed Germany’s stagnation on the “weak spot of some of our export markets, notably China”, including: “For an export nation like ours, that has an impact.”
He additionally cited excessive inflation together with a surge in power costs after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, greater rates of interest that had hit Germany’s construction industry and the lingering disruption that the Covid pandemic had wrought on international provide chains.
Scholz mentioned his authorities was making an attempt to ease the associated fee burden on corporations by quickly increasing wind and photo voltaic power. However he acknowledged that extreme paperwork was slowing down the push to increase renewables.
China is a crucial marketplace for German vehicles and equipment. However exports to China solely quantity to three per cent of German value-added, whereas the nation’s imports from China are a lot larger.
“A sudden unbundling from China would most likely be related to far-reaching disruptions to provide chains and manufacturing in Germany, at the very least within the quick time period,” the German central financial institution mentioned.
China ranked third, behind the US and Luxembourg, as a vacation spot for direct funding by German corporations, accounting for six per cent of the entire in 2022, the Bundesbank mentioned. However this has doubled since 2010 and China accounts for a much bigger share of direct funding in sure sectors, similar to 29 per cent in carmaking.
“In view of accelerating geopolitical tensions and the related dangers, it’s vital for corporations and politicians to rethink the developed construction of provide chains and the additional enlargement of direct funding in China,” it warned.
German corporations counting on essential imports from China generated 1 / 4 of all gross sales within the nation’s manufacturing sector final yr, it discovered.
China accounts for a big proportion of German imports of intermediate items, similar to batteries and electrical parts, in addition to capital items similar to knowledge processing and telecoms tools and client digital items. China additionally dominates the worldwide provide of supplies for electrical automobile batteries, similar to lithium and cobalt.
A current Bundesbank survey discovered that whereas 40 per cent of business corporations counting on essential imports from China had minimize their publicity, and one other 16 per cent had been contemplating such motion, greater than 40 per cent of China-reliant corporations had taken “no motion”.
It referred to as for extra free commerce agreements to diversify provide away from China, improved integration of immigrants into the labour market and a dashing up of state paperwork to “enhance the attractiveness of Germany as a location”.
“Politicians are at present taking some steps on this path,” it mentioned. “Nonetheless, these should be carried out and continued.”