Britain has emerged as Germany’s most important trading partner, overtaking France. British exports to Germany are up 20%.
Trade in goods and services between the UK and Germany has been soaring, with both imports and exports booming at double digit rates. It’s turning out to be one of the fastest growing trade relationships in the developed world.
This is great news for British companies. It is also great news for jobs. Many UK suppliers are deeply integrated into German business and manufacturing. As Germany exports more globally, British business benefits.
For German companies, the UK is now also their biggest investment destination. All this means that our two economies are becoming increasingly close. The UK-German business relationship is now pivotal.
It’s something many of the corporate members of the British German Association (of which I am chairman), including some of the biggest German companies operating in the UK, are very alive to.
So does the prospect of a UK ‘In-Out’ referendum on Europe put all of this at risk? Does the apparent rise in popularity of UKIP and anti-Europe rhetoric mean that Britain may turn its back on Europe and possibly risk its successful trade relationship with Germany?
In Berlin, there is understandable angst. While a serious, grown up debate about Britain’s place within the EU should be welcomed, there is a real danger that anti-EU hysteria, backed by a press frenzy, could see the UK head towards the exit.
Few business leaders would want this. With the benefits of our close union with Germany and the EU so evident, surely it’s now time for business to make its argument and engage forcefully in the debate.
These latest trading figures, confirming as they do the scale and value of the relationship between the UK and Germany, should be a wake up call for everyone who has an interest in deepening the link between our two countries. Our future prosperity could depend on it.