U.S. investments in Germany projected to rise

Posted in United States | 08-Oct-04 | Author: Elizabeth Goetze| Source: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

American Chamber of Commerce presents its annual ranking of U.S. companies in Germany

The American Chamber of Commerce in Germany said it expected U.S. direct investments in Germany to rise this year after stagnating in 2003. Much of this activity will stem from U.S. private equity investors, the lobby group said on Thursday when presenting its annual ranking of the top 50 U.S. companies in Germany.

“We expect American companies to increase their investments in Germany slightly in the coming years,“ said AmCham's director, Dierk Müller.

AmCham's current outlook contrasts with the dismal forecast it made a year ago when President Fred Irwin said AmCham was fighting for replacement investments for capital being pulled out by U.S. investors.

U.S. companies currently have EUR110 billion invested in Germany, unchanged from the previous year, and employ 800,000 people.

AmCham members pointed to labor market regulations, high taxes and stifling bureaucracy as the biggest deterrents to potential U.S. investors. “The tax burden on companies is just too high,“ said Müller, adding that “if Germany wants to remain attractive as a place to do business, then taxes must go down and the tax system must be simplified.“

Irwin said Germany's biggest selling points were its highly qualified labor force and its propensity to innovate.

In 2003, Ford-Werke, a subsidiary of the Ford Motor Company, and General Motors subsidiary Adam Opel topped the list with sales of EUR14.04 billion and EUR13.94 billion respectively. Sales among the top three, which includes Exxon Mobil Central Europe, declined by between 1.5 percent and 2.2 percent.

Müller pointed out, though, that it has become more difficult to gain access to exact sales figures. On the one hand, the stricter rules of corporate governance have made companies more cautious when publishing performance figures. Many multinational companies are also shifting sales abroad to evade taxes, meaning that real sales volume in Germany is often much higher than reported, Müller said.