But now, an interim report from the government development agency Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI) suggests the Americans are back at the top of the investor table.
“As last year, we expect a total of more than 800 new settlements from foreign companies – from sales to production,” said Andreas Bilfinger from GTAI, the Handelsblatt newspaper reported on Wednesday.
“The most investors come from the US, followed by China and Switzerland,” he said.
Germany reportedly remains attractive as a base for production and research. “It is classic industries which invest here,” said Bilfinger.
That includes machine and vehicle construction, as well as the chemical and health industry.
He said Germany's energy transition, as it prepares to step out of the nuclear industry and invest in renewables, was also attracting investors.
The difficult global financial situation was putting something of a brake on inward investment though, he added.
“There is no credit crunch, but many of those who are interested are not able to get credit as easily as they were able to in earlier times,” he said. “But despite this, 2012 will be a successful year for starting new companies.”
After a recent global questionnaire of thousands of business people, the Swiss Business School IMD said that Germany was the only euro-state to belong to the top ten competitive economies of the world.
Another survey mentioned by the Handelsblatt, conducted by consultants Ernst & Young, showed that 400 large and mid-sized firms in China said that Germany was the most attractive European country for investments and buy-ups.