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AmCham Study Reveals Growing Pains of Germany’s Energy Transition

The American Chamber of Commerce in Germany’s annual survey of US firms in Europe’s largest economy uncovers worries about costs but also optimism for the future.

This year’s “Transatlantic Business Barometer” found that positivity among American companies toward doing business in Germany declined in 2023, even as 54 percent of firms surveyed reported revenue increases and 20 percent said that turnover remained constant.

One of the main points of criticism was the comparatively high cost of energy in Europe’s largest market. Germany is in a process of transitioning away from fossil fuels toward one hundred percent clean energy by 2045. Residual anxieties stemming from price spikes after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine no doubt also fed into that subdued mood.

“Without question, companies feel nervous about the level of energy prices at present,” says Robert Hermann, CEO of Germany’s international business promotion agency Germany Trade & Invest. “But it’s worth taking a medium-term view. Germany is investing massively in various forms of sustainable energy for the future. While this is causing some growing pains in terms of economic output, those investments will pay off in the years to come. We are already seeing international companies – Swedish battery maker Northvolt, for example – that have expanded to Germany precisely because they prioritize reliable supplies of clean energy.”

The mood among US companies in Germany for 2024 is on the upswing. 64 percent of those surveyed said they expected revenues to increase in 2024. Germany received high marks for the quality of employees, R&D and supplier networks.

“Moods can rise and fall just as energy prices do, but the fundamental solidity of Germany as a business location is not in any danger,” says Hermann. “On the contrary, Germany remains one of the top markets for international companies looking for political, legal and institutional stability, a proven tradition of research excellence and innovation, a central location in Europe and the EU, and a massive base of potential clients and customers.”

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