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aHK annUal rePort

Annual report 2016 | Kapitelname

Preface | Annual report 2016


Dr Eric Schweitzer President of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK)

This annual report, summarizing the 2016 activities of the worldwide network of the German Chambers of Commerce Abroad, delegations and representatives of German business (AHK), is the first of its kind. From now on such a report will be published annually.

In 2016, German companies exported more than ever before. They were assisted by the worldwide network of the German Chambers of Commerce Abroad (AHKs), delegations and representatives of German business, at more than 130 locations in more than 90 countries. The AHKs are competent service providers, strong networks, and trustworthy representatives of the interests of trade and industry. Together with the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), we were able to further strengthen the network in 2016. Some locations were expanded, others were newly founded, e.g. in Zambia, Serbia, and Ukraine. The AHKs with their approximately 1,900 employees can be proud of what they achieve worldwide in supporting companies in international commerce. This first joint annual report of the AHK network provides an insight into its achievements and efforts on behalf of industry and trade. I want to take this opportunity to thank all the companies that have placed their trust in us. Particular respect is owed to board and committee members of the AHKs as well as to the employees. Together we have been successful, and together we will stay on the ball.

Germany’s economy is one of the most globally interconnected in the world. This international integration would not be possible without the German Chambers of Commerce Abroad, the AHKs. This network helps companies secure a foothold in new markets and grow in more than 90 different countries. The AHK network plays a crucial role in the success of German companies around the world.

taBle of contents Preface ..............................................................03 Highlights .........................................................04

Brigitte Zypries Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy

Our new annual report makes the successful work of the AHK network clearly visible. A significant factor in this success is the financial support from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Following a decision of the German parliament, we provide more than 40 million euros of funding each year to the AHK network. The AHKs have served as partners for German businesses for more than 120 years. Together with the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry, we want to continue this success story and further expand the AHK network. The plans include improving the AHK’s consultation service and increasing the number of offices abroad. We will be placing a particular focus on the markets of the future in Africa.

Platform ............................................................08 Service providers............................................ 12 Representation of German Business .......20 Outlook/Publication details .......................23 2


Annual report 2016 | Highlights

Highlights | Annual report 2016

AHK WORLD CONFERENCE 2016 At the AHK world conference from May 9 to 11, AHK representatives from 90 countries met with important partners in foreign trade promotion, the Chambers of Commerce and Industry (IHKs), and with businesses to discuss trends and developments in international markets. In brief: a total of 1,100 guests; fully booked events; the first time that almost 100 board members from about 40 AHKs were included; a successful IHK German Schools Abroad competition with enthusiastic students; a memorandum of understanding with the Confederation of Danish Enterprise; an agreement with the German National Tourist Board; and much more.

High lights 4


Centennials in Latin America

An evaluation of the federal allocations to the AHK network was commissioned by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). The 300-page final report appeared in 2016, with a positive outcome for the AHKs. It praised their strong commitment and excellent network abroad. The report emphasizes that the collaboration between the AHKs and the other actors of German foreign trade promotion (e.g. Germany Trade & Invest and German diplomatic missions) is paired with considerable staff and financial synergies. According to the companies interviewed, a vast number of jobs were created or secured in Germany thanks to the AHKs. In the future, these achievements of the AHK network are to be made even more visible. Therefore, the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry, supported by the BMWi, began a structured performance and impact assessment last year. The results will be presented in future annual reports.

In 2016, five Latin American AHKs celebrated their centennials: Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago de Chile, and SĂŁo Paulo are thereby among the oldest locations in the AHK network. High-ranking guests honored the excellent work of the AHKs by taking part in the festivities. German President Joachim Gauck and DIHK CEO Dr Martin Wansleben were guests of honor at the festivities of the AHKs in Montevideo and Santiago de Chile. The Buenos Aires AHK welcomed Foreign Minister Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and the SĂŁo Paulo AHK received the President of the Bundestag (the German Parliament), Dr Norbert Lammert and the CEO of the DIHK as guests of honor in this important year. In Rio de Janeiro, the AHK centennial year happened to be the year in which the Olympic Games were carried out for the first time in South America. 5

Jahresbericht 2016 | Schlaglichter

Highlights | Annual report 2016



Expansion and strengthening of the AHK network was made possible through support of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). The delegations in Serbia and Ukraine were transformed into AHKs. The foundation ceremony in Serbia took place on April 14 with DIHK’s managing director international economic relations Julia Arnold. DIHK CEO Dr Martin Wansleben and Matthias Machnig, state secretary in the BMWi, inaugurated the AHK Ukraine on October 11 with more than 500 people in attendance. A new AHK network location was inaugurated in Zambia on May 24 by former German President Horst Köhler, Thomas Silberhorn, parliamentary state secretary in the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, and Benjamin Leipold, managing director German Chambers of Commerce Worldwide Network (AHK): This branch office of the AHK Southern Africa was set up together with the ExperTS program of GIZ, the development agency of the German federal government.

From November 3 to 5, German trade and industry directed its attention towards the world’s fastest growing economic region: Asia-Pacific. Current political and economic trends were on the agenda of the 15th AsiaPacific Conference of German Business in Hong Kong. With over 1,000 participants and top-level speakers from 16 different countries, the APK once again fulfilled the role it has had for 30 years of being a trend scout and the most important forum for economic and political decision makers from Asia and Germany. The APK is an event of the Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business (APA), the AHKs in the Asia-Pacific region, and the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, and it is carried out by the local AHK in each conference’s host country.

Hannover Messe 2016 In 2016, the AHK network presented itself for the second time in a row at Europe’s leading forum for international trade, Global Business & Markets, at the Hannover Messe trade fair. A total of 47 AHKs were represented there from April 25 to 29, and they advised interested companies in numerous individual discussions. Public forums that provided information on the economic potential of Iran, the United States, and the ASEAN countries were organized by the corresponding AHKs. In addition, there was a series of events in the exclusive rooms of the Investment Lounge, amongst other things on the AHK oil and gas cluster and on business in Australia, Kenya, Croatia, Russia, and South Africa.



Annual report 2016 | Kapitelname

Platform | Annual report 2016

ÂťOur company became a member of the AHK Thailand 20 years ago. We especially appreciate the chance to personally meet business partners and potential customers through various events. Digitalization has in recent years provided new, modern forms of communication, but in our experience meeting business contacts personally is still important. And here the AHK offers an enormous benefit to its members.ÂŤ


Volker Hellstern Managing Director, Häfele (Thailand) Limited

mem Be47,900 rs MEMBERsHIPs


2 3


34,136 members in host countries


12,323 members in Germany



1,399 other members

Membership in an AHK provides companies with a wide and varied range of attractive services and benefits that are valuable to businesses of all sizes. The most important benefit is provided by the unique network at the disposal of the AHKs, through which they are well connected with business people and politicians both locally and in Germany. This helps members make new contacts and meet crucial business partners and also gain access to exclusive events and services. They can also actively participate in and contribute to committees and special working groups with their expertise and ideas. Opinion surveys among members are also an important form of participation that help the AHK identify and represent the expectations and concerns of the business community. The membership total of nearly 47,000 in the world-wide AHK network confirms that even in this era of increasing digital communication and the use of social media, faceto-face meetings and personal interaction remain essential and indispensable for businesses. 9

Annual report 2016 | Platform

Platform | Annual report 2016

»The success of an AHK is closely connected with the people involved: Active and committed members and honorary board members each provide essential contributions. A clear strategy, each person’s experience and knowledge, and goal-oriented implementation of the projects agreed-upon are necessary elements to ensure success. The AHK team compiles the information and promotes the issues.« Dr Erwin Rauhe Chairman of the Italian AHK, Vice President BASF

Board and com 1,500 mittee members BOARD AND COMMITTEE MEMBERS Approximately 1,500 company representatives are active in honorary positions on boards and committees of AHKs throughout the world. Through this commitment, companies provide crucial help that enables the AHK to fulfill its tasks as well as possible. They contribute their time, knowledge, and experience. Together with the AHK’s staff, they represent the interests of local businesses. A close exchange of ideas between the AHK and businesses enables demand-oriented foreign trade promotion. It also helps the local AHK and the entire AHK network to recognize the first signs of market trends and changes. 10

eve 4,800 nts EVENTS IN 2016 2,000 member events

1,800 specialist and educational seminars 1,000 receptions and other networking events

During the last year, the AHKs organized a total of 4,800 events throughout the world. They ranged from industry and educational events, where experts spoke on current topics, to member events for discussing local issues all the way to receptions with high-ranking politicians and business people – from Germany and all over the world. With these events, the AHKs not only provide businesses with the chance to meet with experts and learn about current developments. In addition, the participants simultaneously benefit from the wide network of contacts of the AHKs in Germany and the host countries. They can forge valuable new contacts with potential business partners and maintain existing relationships. More than 460,000 participants confirm the great need for and the enormous interest in the information and platform provided by such events.

Par tici 462,000 pants


Annual report 2016 | Kapitelname

Service providers | Annual report 2016

COLLABORATION WITH EUROPEAN CHAMBERs AND AssOCIATIONs In 2016, memorandums of understanding (MoUs) were signed with the Confederation of Danish Enterprise and the Finnish Chamber of Commerce on collaboration with the AHK network. From now on, the services of the AHKs throughout the world are available to Danish and Finnish companies. This is an important step towards strengthening the EU’s foreign trade promotion. And the collaboration enables German companies to benefit from the innovation potential of these Nordic countries and to collectively increase their potential in other markets.

reven Ue from €ser 126 m vices REVENUE FROM sERVICEs The AHKs are the first contact in foreign markets for many companies. Under the service brand DEinternational, the AHKs provide companies worldwide with professional consultation and support for successfully starting and expanding their business abroad. The AHKs form a bridge between the markets and cultures. AHK employees are multilingual and know the opportunities and risks of the respective host country.

service Providers

The AHKs provide services suited to the individual needs of each company. These range from address research to target market analysis to finding suitable business and sales partners to help with establishing a business. The services also include providing legal, tax, credit rating, and customs information, help with finding qualified staff, and support with trade fair activities. 2015:

€ 124 million 2016:

€ 126 million 12

The AHKs have been well acquainted with the local conditions for decades and can help companies quickly find their way around in the unfamiliar environment so that their business ideas can be successful. In 2016, the AHKs achieved revenues of almost 130 million euros with their services worldwide. 13

Annual report 2016 | Service providers

Service providers | Annual report 2016

ADVICE ON AN EMERGING MARKET: IRAN After the sanctions on Iran were lifted, the demand for information about the country was especially high in 2016. Experts from the Iranian AHK responded by explaining Iran’s potential and challenges at 33 events throughout Germany. These included ten advisory days, during which about 80 companies received individual consultations.

advi 1,240 sory events ADVISORY EVENTS IN GERMANY Approaching customers on their terms – that is what the AHKs do; for example during advisory days in Germany. Consultation on individual countries, regions, or themes is offered by the Chambers of Commerce and Industry (IHKs) in particular, but also by trade associations and country associations. The consultation days enable interested companies to receive briefings and to inform themselves in Germany about a target market before taking the next step of going abroad to explore the situation on location. The AHK experts present the market opportunities and relevant conditions in the country and inform about opportunities and challenges. They are also available for personal conversations and consultation for interested companies on individual business opportunities. The AHK experts are competent consultants for the company representatives who can provide not only initial briefings and can help evaluate a market’s potential but can also assist in taking the next steps into the market. In 2016, AHK experts participated in a total of 1,240 consultation days throughout Germany and advised companies on their respective markets. 14


to the host country

230 to Germany

tri 710 ps

DELEGATION TRIPS Delegation trips provide companies with important support for entering a market. They give companies the opportunity to inform themselves about business opportunities and relevant conditions in the country of interest. Such visits also make it possible to forge valuable contacts with potential business partners and key local people and to get to know political, cultural, and economic specifics about the target country. Such a first impression is an important prerequisite for establishing long-lasting successful businesses. The AHK provides support in advance, organizes the program, and is ready to provide advice and practical support at meetings. The services offered range from preliminary market explorations to finding concrete business partners. A number of delegation trips are sponsored by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). These include, for instance, Export Initiatives, which especially benefit SMEs. The AHKs also organize trips to Germany for entrepreneurs from all over the world during which they can inform themselves about business opportunities in Germany and can forge valuable contacts. In performing these tasks, the AHKs receive a great deal of support from the Chambers of Commerce and Industry (IHKs), trade associations, and trade and investment promoters in Germany. In 2016, the AHKs organized more than 700 delegation trips and thus helped more than 10,000 participants take their first steps into new markets.

part icipa 10.100 nts

total participants


in delegation trips to host countries


in delegation trips to Germany


Annual report 2016 | Service providers

Service providers | Annual report 2016

Website page views


trade fair 312,000 visitors

WEBSITE PAGE VIEWS The website was updated in 2016. The new design shows the most important information at a glance – and thanks to responsive web design, also on all mobile devices. With just a few clicks, the user can find all the important information and services provided by the AHK network. There are now also links to all the individual websites of the different AHK locations. These provide interested businesses with a broad range of information about activities, events, market information and consultation offers, special projects, and financial support programs in the host countries. Here, companies can also find the contact information for their local partners. This service was widely used in 2016: The pages of the AHK websites were viewed more than 9 million times.

Investor 315 leads investor leads Marketing Germany as a business location and promoting it to investors are important tasks of the AHKs, that are carried out in collaboration with Germany Trade and Invest (GTAI). As bilateral member organizations, they are well connected not only with German, but also with local companies. By looking after the needs of their members and customers every day, the AHKs also have access to potential investor groups. Priority is given to attracting foreign high-tech companies. As part of their efforts to generate investor leads, the AHKs passed on a total of 315 investment plans of foreign companies to GTAI and the investment promotion agencies of the German states (Länder). In this way they helped attract new investors and create new jobs in Germany. 16

TRADE FAIR VISITORS AND EXHIBITORS The AHKs with their excellent networks in 90 countries are an ideal global partner for the German trade fairs in their worldwide promotion of their trade fair formats. With more than 200 representation agreements with German trade fairs, the AHK network is a strong marketing partner of the German trade fair industry. The intensive work on location abroad ensures that the number of foreign exhibitors at German trade fairs in Germany and abroad continues to increase. Meanwhile there are more than 100,000 foreign exhibitors at German trade fairs. Through individual conversations, large events, and other advertising campaigns, the AHKs each year attract thousands of visitors to German trade fairs from the AHKs’ host countries. Not only the trade fairs benefit from these visitors, many of whom are AHK members, but also the German retail, hotel, and restaurant industries. Furthermore, the AHKs organize – often in regional collaboration – sector-specific delegation trips to German trade fairs. In 2016, these efforts were able to attract more than 300,000 visitors and about 12,000 exhibitors.

trade fair 12,000 exhibitors 17

Annual report 2016 | Service providers

Service providers | Annual report 2016

»VETnet was an important initial spark for the topic of vocational training in the Slovakian AHK. We benefit as a German company in Slovakia: We have a competent partner and a strong platform for vocational training activities in order to implement the dual vocational training according to the German model in our company also. In this way we can train highly qualified specialists directly for our own company and with them plan the long-term perspectives of the company.«

»The German Chambers of Commerce Abroad with their multifaceted networks work together well with the market entry program of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. With competence and high quality they once again successfully participated in our invitations to tender in 2016, and they were awarded the contract in many cases. As on site partners, they contribute to the success of many market development trips and also assist the participating companies afterwards.«

Jürgen Knie CEO of the equipment manufacturer Manz Slovakia and president of the Slovakian AHK

com pan600 ies

in expor € 35 M ts



600 companies in 11 countries benefit from dual vocational training (vocational education and on-the-job training) through the VETnet project, which is supported by the Ministry of Education and Research. The AHKs in China, Greece, India, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Thailand, and since 2016 also Mexico and the United States support these companies in implementing the dual vocational training and thereby ensure that their needs for skilled personnel are reliably met.

The Foreign Market Entry Program (MEP) of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy especially provides pragmatic support to SMEs entering new markets. The services offered range from informational events in Germany to market exploration trips to finding concrete business partners all over the world. A total of about 1,000 companies took advantage of the MEP in 2016.

And these needs are substantial: In 2016, there were 6,000 trainees in 38 different occupations and eight different industries. Here too the effect of Industry 4.0 is evident: The majority of trainings are for jobs in trade, industry, and technology, with mechatronics leading the pack. An increase in variety however can be observed in the latest training year: the newest professions are (industrial) footwear maker and warehouse logistics technician. The AHKs further expanded their vocational training activities in 2016. As a local platform for partners and as local experts for a dual vocational training that is oriented towards the needs of the companies involved, they ensure the quality of dual vocational training »made in Germany«. 600 »showcases« with companies where one can experience dual vocational training live and in color encourage imitation and increasingly promote the concept of vocational training according to the German model abroad. 18

MinR Dr Christian Storost Director of the Department of Foreign Trade Promotion of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy

The AHK network has been a committed partner of the MEP for many years. Many AHKs contribute actively to the program planning by proposing new target markets and subject areas. Due to their long experience on the ground, these AHK suggestions are able to take into consideration the range of products and services offered by the German companies as well as the available collaboration and networking possibilities. The AHKs are also extremely successful in carrying out such trips: In 2016, they were able to win about two thirds of all MEP tenders due to good concepts and thereby contributed decisively to the extremely positive response to the MEP. Based on an external assessment of the MEP, the MEP business contact projects carried out by the AHKs in 2016 alone probably generated revenues from exports amounting from 30 to 35 million euros.


Annual report 2016 | Kapitelname

Representation of German Business | Annual report 2016

»The AHK World Business Outlook has by now become an established tool for keeping our finger on the pulse of the times in presenting successes and problems in the export business. It also once again highlights the expertise of our AHK network. Companies, politics, the media, and the public benefit from the great store of knowledge of our organization. The recipients are not only in Germany but also in the individual countries and the numerous international organizations. Due to AHKs’ closeness to the businesses, we have achieved a unique selling point with the AHK World Business Outlook.« Dr Volker Treier Deputy CEO, Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK)

rePresentation of german BUsiness


Medium-term business expectations of companies worldwide (autumn 2016)





20 % better


53 % stable


27 % worse


Twice a year the AHK World Business Outlook presents the situation, expectations, and risks of the companies connected to the worldwide AHK network. In 2016, the publication was based on a total of 5,600 responses given by German companies, branches, and subsidiaries to the AHKs’ joint survey. Companies of all sizes and sectors show how successfully they operate in many regions of the world. Once again, they planned more investments and wanted to hire more employees. The report also shows where the businesses had to deal with recessions and crises. In 2016, in addition to demand in individual countries, the greatest risks for global business included the concerns about deteriorating economic conditions and the lack of skilled labor. The German media reported extensively about the AHK World Business Outlook. But individual AHKs also used their respective country results to point out the special challenges locally and to simultaneously present their expertise in the markets. 21

Annual report 2016 | Representation of German Business

intervieW Bernhard Steinrücke Spokesperson of the German Chambers of Commerce Abroad

This is the first AHK annual report. Why was this format introduced? The success of German trade and industry in international competition is based not least on the strong AHK network, which encompasses 99% of German foreign trade. The Heseltine Report called it the most effective and most integrated business support infrastructure: The AHKs are described as consistent and coherent and as presenting themselves as a single family to the business community. Different regions of course require different activities and support, but we are nevertheless a network, a family, and we pursue the same goal everywhere. We are a trustworthy partner for businesses – as a platform, service provider, and the official representation of German business. So it is high time that we as a family provide insight into the work of about 1,900 AHK colleagues in more than 90 countries. This annual report gives an impressive overview of what we achieved in 2016 in supporting businesses on their way to foreign countries and from the host countries to Germany.

What are the strengths of the AHKs? Two of the main strengths of the AHKs are their wide reaching and resilient network and their many years of experience. In 2019, our network will celebrate its 125th anniversary, and the combined professional experience of the CEOs of all the AHKs amounts to almost 1,000 years. This enables us to give competent advice as a service provider and to provide a valuable platform as a membership organization. The third strength is the work of the AHKs in representing the interests of business towards political organizations. How do you know what businesses are interested in? Due to our constant contact with customers and members, we have an open ear for the needs of trade and industry and we also hear about the concerns and wishes of companies. In addition, we regularly conduct surveys on business expectations and risks and sometimes on special topics, for example Brexit. This enables us to receive a representative picture of business interests and to summarize them. How and where do you present these interests to decision makers? The AHKs are well connected with decision makers in politics and administration. We keep in touch with our contacts in Germany as well as in our host countries, participate in delegation trips, trade fairs, and conferences. This makes us a connecting link between business and politics and therefore an ideal mediator. As neutral voices, AHKs can bring up problems with the appropriate decision makers, present suggestions for solutions, and organize crucial conversations.

»We are a Home for BUsinesses in distant lands« In doing so we can rely on the support of our partners, e.g. the Chambers of Commerce and Industry (IHKs), the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK), Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI), the German diplomatic missions, trade associations, and other institutions. Often the most important thing is to have a trusted local partner. We are a home for businesses in distant lands. 22

oUtlooK 2017 Planned expansion and reinforcement of the AHK network: ▪ Cuba ▪ Tanzania Opening of a trade policy competence center at the Singapore AHK Implementation of the strategy paper on Sub-Saharan Africa of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) and of the initiative »Pro! Africa« of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi)

contact and PUBlication details Publisher DIHK | Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry Postal address: DIHK | 11052 Berlin Visiting address: Breite Straße 29 | 10178 Berlin T. +49 30 20308-0 F. +49 30 20308-2333

Websites Date June 2017

»2017 Asia-Pacific Regional Conference« in Perth, Australia

Editor Rima Trach

Kickoff of the project »Skills Experts« of the BMWi

Design LAUT UND DEUTLICH Agentur für strategische Kommunikation Printer KÖLLEN DRUCK & VERLAG GMBH Photo credits Cover: fotolia/davis; full-page photos: lesleywang2015, PeopleImages, Pinkypills, g-stockstudio (all iStock); highlights: DIHK and Thinkstock by Getty Images, portraits: DIHK; graphics: iStock – Rawpixel, A-Digit, lvcandy, A-R-T-U-R 23

The German Chambers of Commerce Abroad (AHKs) advise, support, and represent German companies worldwide that want to start or expand their business abroad. The AHKs provide their services to German and foreign companies under the service mark DEinternational. |

Date: June 2017

Ahk annual report 2016-  
Ahk annual report 2016-