Germany - Selling and buying
Reaching the consumers
- the large number of small independent shops;
- the sector's low level of concentration, compared with the main European markets (France, United Kingdom, Belgium);
- the predominance of distribution in city centers and urban areas;
- very few "hypermarket" style stores;
- the domination of "hard discount" stores and the importance of distance selling (mail order, e-commerce, teleshopping).
German distribution is divided between the following distribution channels: Traditional retail trade (24.8%); Specialized hypermarkets (22%); Non-food chain stores (13%); DIY hypermarkets (11.7%); Discounters (11%); Supermarkets (7.9%); Distance selling (5.8%); Department stores (3.8%). Sources: Ifo-Institut & destatis
The three leading German distribution groups are Metro, Rewe and Edeka/Ava. "Hard discount" is the leading type of food distribution, registering growth of about 10% and generating 40% of total food sales. The rise of discounters such as Lidl or Aldi has forced distributors to wage a price war: so, insufficient margins may slow down the modernization of sales outlets and the development of new distribution concepts. Relations between distributors and their suppliers, said to be very difficult, have become even more strained. A trend towards concentration has appeared and groups such as Karstadt (in German), Edeka-Tengelmann, and discounters like the American Wal-Mart are now competing hard, bringing down suppliers' margins.
Market access procedures
Member of the European Economic Area which since 1 January 1993 guarantees the free movement of most goods between European countries.
Multilateral agreements and bilateral agreements with many countries.
If the EU has quite a liberal foreign trade policy, there are a certain number of restrictions, especially at the level of agricultural products, ensuing from the implementation of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy): applying compensations when importing and exporting agricultural products to favor the development of agriculture within the EU implies a certain number of systems to control and regulate goods entering EU territory.
Moreover, for sanitary reasons, as regards the presence of Genetically Modified Organisms, if they are allowed in Europe, their presence must, for example, be systematically specified on packaging. Importing beef fed on hormones is also prohibited. The BSE crisis (called "mad cow disease") has encouraged the European authorities to reinforce phytosanitary measures to ensure the quality of meat entering and circulating in EU countries. The principle of precaution is now more widely favored: in case of doubt, import is prohibited until the non- noxiousness of the goods is proved.
Some other goods remain prohibited or subject to specific formalities. For example, medicines for human use, waste, plants or live animals.
Duties for countries outside Europe are not very high, especially for industrial products (4.2% on average for the general tariff).
As part of the "SAFE" standards advocated by the World Customs Organization (WCO), the European Union has set up a new system of import controls, the "Import Control System" (ICS), which aims to secure the flow of goods at the time of their entry into the customs territory of the EU. This control system, part of the Community Program eCustomer, has been in effect since January 1, 2011. Since then, operators are required to pass an Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) to the customs of the country of entry, prior to the introduction of goods into the customs territory of the European Union.
In addition to the written customs declaration, an invoice and sometimes a certificate of origin must be joined to imported products. The modernized customs code (MCC), entered into force in 2008, simplifies the procedures, for example by introducing a paperless environment and centralizing transactions.
Organizing goods transport
On motorways, a tax on industrial vehicles with a gross weight over 12 tonnes has been in force since 1995. The tariffs are set per day, week, month or year and consist of a subscription which entitles the driver to a certificate which he must present.
Domestic business directories
- Chemical Industry Federation
- Association for Electrical, Electronic and Information Technologies
- The German Aerospace Industries Association
- The German Automotive Industry Association
- German Association of Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies
- The Federation of German Food and Drink Industries
- VDMA Associations