The German Federal State of Niedersachsen
By Gary Camarano
Expanding a community’s footprint in today’s global economy can produce numerous benefits. Existing businesses can increase sales by expanding into new markets and identify unique supply chain solutions. Communities can also attract FDI projects that can increase investment and create jobs while diversifying the local economy. However, foreign trade can have its pitfalls. The big question remains: Is this a truly mutual beneficial relationship?
As part of a new feature, Expansion Solutions will identify potential opportunities for businesses and communities looking to expand their global footprint, and introduce them to trade representatives that can provide further information about their countries and the opportunities that exist for mutually beneficial trade.
In this issue, we are talking with Dr. Andreas Eckstein, the U.S. representation of the German Federal State of Niedersachsen, with a Midwest office located in Chicago, IL, under the umbrella of Hannover Fairs USA. Dr. Eckstein has 15 years of experience in fostering transatlantic trade, innovations and FDI. Niedersachsen is Germany’s second largest state. According to the World Bank Group’s “Doing Business 2020,” Germany ranks 22 out of 190 countries for ease of doing business.
We recently met with Andreas to discuss the importance of having a U.S. representation here to discuss the numerous opportunities available.
Expansion Solutions Magazine (ESM): What is the purpose of the Niedersachsen office in the U.S.?
Dr. Andreas Eckstein (AE): The U.S. is the most important export market for Germany. At the same time, American companies sell over $55 billion in goods and services to Germany and enjoy the benefits of a European free trade zone. Some of the strongest trade occurs in industries where Niedersachsen has traditionally been on the forefront, such as Aerospace & Aviation, Automotive, Renewable Energies, Agriculture and Logistics.
Our mission in the U.S. is twofold: We serve as a one-stop shop for companies from Niedersachsen considering to enter or expand in the U.S. by offering sales, marketing, legal and operational resources. On the other hand, we assist U.S. companies in growing their business in Europe with a full range of services: from identifying business opportunities to developing a marketing and sales strategy, finding the best location and qualified labor and implementing the necessary measures.
ESM: Why did you decide to establish the office in the Midwest?
AE: The Midwest’s economic strength with automotive agriculture and manufacturing lies in similar industries as those of Niedersachsen. Every year at Hannover Messe in Germany we have over 50 companies from the Midwest exhibiting their products and we were able to help them to increase their export revenue by connecting them with buyers, distribution partners and industry clusters. Now we want to take them to the next level and help them enter Joint Ventures or set up permanent operations in Europe. It is best to be close to their headquarters.
We are co-located with HANNOVER FAIRS USA, the subsidiary of one of the world’s largest trade show organizers located in Chicago. This way we are able to exploit synergies at trade shows in Germany as well as in the U.S. Additionally, many of the largest American industrial trade shows take place in the Midwest. It is always better for a company to explore a new market when they can meet many possible clients. That’s why these conferences that happen in both countries, like Hannover Messe, Interschutz and Agritechnika are a huge part of our success story.
ESM: What is your take on trade developments?
AE: Trade and FDI offer significant value and opportunities to both economies. Almost five percent of all U.S. jobs and over one quarter of total U.S. exports are generated by U.S. affiliates of foreign-owned companies. We received inquiries from nearly 50 companies from Niedersachsen on their U.S. expansion plans in the last year. On the other hand, many U.S. companies want to explore the European market, and even companies who still have an office in Great Britain are now looking to move their operations to the heart of Europe and that is where Niedersachsen comes into play.
ESM: What are initiatives to further trade dialogues between the U.S. and Niedersachsen?
AE: We have yearly recurring initiatives that make it easy for interested companies to plan ahead. In early spring, we are hosting an aviation delegation from Niedersachsen to the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance (PNAA) Annual Conference in Seattle, WA. Furthermore, we are organizing an AgTech and Food exchange between Niedersachsen’s Ag companies and their pendants in the Midwest. In late spring, the biggest industrial trade show “Hannover Messe” attracts companies and customers from all over the world and we have the pleasure to host this event in Hannover as well as in Chicago. MedTech and Life Science are big topics for us. That’s why we have a big booth every summer at the BIO conference. As for renewable energy, especially wind offshore and energy storage are important topics for us, we attend the mayor industry events in the fall in the U.S. and help U.S. companies to make the most of their international experience while attending the biggest event in Europe. As a part of our community strategy, we are involved at the Octoberfest and participate in the Christkindl market in Chicago.
Additionally, we partner with many U.S. EDOs to organize matchmaking delegations. The U.S. market has such a huge potential that many companies from Niedersachsen ask themselves in better hindsight, why they did not expand to the U.S. much earlier. We had success cases where the CEO of a company told us, that he is selling more products after establishing operations in the U.S. since one year, than in 15 years in Europe. This feedback is very encouraging and motivates us. By entering the other market, both U.S. and German companies have expanded employment in their home base. Because both countries are in high tech goods, the trade between our two nations does not lead to a shift in production, it leads to an increase in jobs and intra-industry trade.
ESM: Thank you Andreas. Readers are encouraged to reach out to Dr. Eckstein with any questions regarding trade and investment opportunities with the German Federal State of Niedersachsen at the contact below.