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German companies complain about increasing trade barriers

Survey shows sad record even before Russia-Ukraine crisis
Hamburger Hafen für Going International 2020

© Jan-Otto / E+ / Getty Images

The Russian attack on Ukraine and the resulting consequences for the economy act like a burning glass on the situation of German companies active abroad: Even before the war began, they were increasingly encountering trade barriers around the world. This shows the survey "Going International" from this year by the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK).

Around 2,700 companies with cross-border operations took part in the survey in the first half of February. According to their own statements, a good half (54 percent) of them feel an acute increase in hurdles on their international business. By comparison, 2017 not even a third of companies registered an increase in trade barriers. 

On the list of the biggest trade barriers – before the war in Ukraine – the sanctions mentioned by 24 percent took the fifth place. However, companies in February had found "local certification requirements" and "increased security requirements" (49 percent each), as well as "non-transparent legislation" (33 percent) and tariffs (32 percent) to be even more of a hindrance.

And hopes for an upward trend this year – despite full order books – were already absent in the survey period: For 2022, 18 percent of the companies expect a plus for their foreign business, but 21 percent expect a minus. This is better than in the previous two years, but negative on balance.

The universally expected strong growth after the 2020 Corona low thus fails to materialize. Instead, the trade barriers created during the pandemic threaten to solidify and accelerate the tendency toward protectionism that was already evident before. In addition to this are the sanctions imposed on Russia with their still unclear consequences for world trade.

The export growth of six percent for 2022 previously forecast by the DIHK in its economic survey "can no longer be achieved," according to Treier. After all, companies are looking at high order backlogs. In order to reduce these, however, they must succeed in solving the problems in the supply chains.

The complete results of the survey, which was conducted in February and thus before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, can be downloaded here:

Going International 2022 (PDF, 504 KB)


Porträtfoto Carolin Herweg
Carolin Herweg Director International Economy


Picture Julia Fellinger, Press Officer
Julia Fellinger Spokeswoman