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Germany most popular country for Americans to do business

AFP · 10 Feb 2009, 17:14

Published: 10 Feb 2009 17:14 GMT+01:00

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The study of 61 top US companies, including Microsoft, Nike and McDonalds, also placed Germany ahead of Eastern Europe, Britain, France and Spain – the first time Europe's powerhouse has topped the poll since it began in 2004.

"Because clients are demanding more security in these troubled times, companies are placing particular emphasis on high quality products and processes. This is what you find in Germany," said BCG's head in Germany, Christian Veith.

Fred B. Irwin, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany, which commissioned the study, said Germany's strengths outweighed its perceived weaknesses - high labour costs and tax burdens and low economic growth.

The research also revealed that US companies are pinning their hopes on improved transatlantic relations in the wake of Barack Obama becoming president last month.

A huge majority (86 percent) said US-German economic relations would improve, with 14 percent believing they would stay the same. Not a single firm surveyed said economic ties would deteriorate under an Obama administration.

Nevertheless, the financial crisis has undoubtedly affected the corporate mood. Nearly half (41 percent) said they would reduce their workforce in Germany in 2009, compared to 16 percent in 2008.

However, one third of US firms said they intended to increase their investment in Germany in 2009, with 17 percent predicting a reduction. Around half (51 percent) said investment levels would not change.

Businesses said they felt less buffeted by the financial crisis in Germany than in other locations.

"Our members have assured us that Germany is still an especially attractive market because of its relatively stable housing market, high purchasing power and low household debt," Irwin said.

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But the companies also said they would like to see a greater number of well-qualified graduates emerging from German schools and universities.

Engineers are especially hard to find, the poll showed.

The 61 firms surveyed have a combined turnover of €110 billion ($143 billion) and employ 250,000 people in Germany, the survey said.

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