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In this page: FDI in Figures | What to consider if you invest in Germany | Protection of Foreign Investment | Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment | Office Real Estate and Land Ownership | Investment Aid | Investment Opportunities | Sectors Where Investment Opportunities Are Fewer | Finding Assistance For Further Information


FDI in Figures

Germany is considered an attractive country for foreign direct investment, but in recent years the influx of FDI has been hampered by the global recession and subsequent Eurozone crisis. According to the 2023 World Investment Report by UNCTAD, FDI inflows into Germany were down by 76.2% in 2022, totalling USD 11 billion, against USD 46.4 billion one year earlier. In the same year, the stock of FDI decreased slightly to over USD 1 trillion (-4.8%). The country has traditionally been a key investor: Germany's outward investment stood at USD 143 billion in 2022. According to data from the national Trade and Investment Agency (GTAI), Germany’s federal states registered 1,783 FDI projects in 2022 (excluding M&A). The number of business expansion projects remained stable at 1,783, with the United States leading as the primary source country, contributing 10% more projects (279 in total). Switzerland, the second-ranking country, saw a slight decrease in FDI, while Britain experienced a 21% rise, securing the third position with 170 projects. In the same year, key sectors attracting FDI to Germany included semiconductors, clean energy, digitalization, logistics, and the service sector. However, in 2023 GTAI expects a decline in foreign direct investments by 18% compared to the previous year. In 2023, 16 investments exceeding EUR 100 million have been confirmed, including six in the billion-euro range. Significant commitments include Eli Lilly's EUR 2.3 billion investment in a new plant in Alzey, and BP's substantial EUR 6.8 billion for two North Sea wind farms. Additionally, three data centers in Berlin, Wustermark (Brandenburg), and Hanau (Hesse) are each anticipated to surpass the billion-euro mark. Finally, apple is set to make a substantial investment of around EUR 1 billion to expand its European center for chip design in Munich. Overall, FDIs in Germany are mostly owned by Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the U.S., Switzerland and the UK, which represent more than 60% of the total stock. France, Ireland, Italy, Austria, and Japan are also investing in the country. FDIs are mainly oriented towards finance and insurance, manufacturing and trade, information and communication, management and consultancy activities, and real estate. The latest data from OECD shows that in the fist half of 2023 FDI inflows to Germany reached a total of USD 15.6 billion, more than four times higher compared to the same period of the previous year.

Among the country’s strengths are a highly powerful and diversified industrial network, a highly skilled workforce with a good command of English, reliable infrastructure, a favourable social climate, a stable legal framework and a location at the heart of Europe. Its main weaknesses are a high tax rate (for both individuals and businesses), rather inflexible labour laws, and a high dependence on the automotive and mechanical industries. The Economist Business Environment ranking puts Germany in the 13th place out of 82 countries in terms of business environment. However, The Economist notes that the country is more exposed than most other large high-income economies to the near-term fallout and energy risks from the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Constraints on the ranking include a high tax burden on labour income and on firms, combined with high administrative costs. Germany ranks 8th among the 132 economies on the Global Innovation Index 2023 and 18th out of 184 countries on the 2023 Index of Economic Freedom.

Foreign Direct Investment 202020212022
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 56,20446,46811,053
FDI Stock (million USD) 1,153,0991,057,9901,007,533
Number of Greenfield Investments* 1,1051,395984
Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD) 26,50447,23134,398

Source: UNCTAD, Latest data available.

Note: * Greenfield Investments are a form of Foreign Direct Investment where a parent company starts a new venture in a foreign country by constructing new operational facilities from the ground up.



Main Investing Countries 2022, in %
Luxembourg 21.1
The Netherlands 17.5
USA 10.0
Switzerland 8.2
United Kingdom 8.2
France 5.3
Austria 4.1
Italy 3.9
Japan 3.5
Main Invested Sectors 2022, in %
Financial and insurance activities 43.9
Activities of head offices; management consultancy activities (holding companies with management function) 34.7
Manufacturing 5.5
Wholesale and retail trade, maintenance 4.7

Source: Deutsche Bundesbank, Latest data available.

Form of Company Preferred By Foreign Investors
Form of Establishment Preferred By Foreign Investors
Distributors, commercial agents.
Main Foreign Companies
Ford, General Motors, Exxon Mobil, Sony, Toshiba (German), Total.
Sources of Statistics
Federal Statistical Office
Germany Trade and Invest

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What to consider if you invest in Germany

Strong Points

Germany's strengths for FDI are:

  • Strategic location in the centre of Europe
  • Political stability and a good anchor in international relations
  • The largest population of the European Union
  • Infrastructure among the most developed in the European Union
  • Strong manufacturing base (almost a third of the GDP)
  • Strong exports (high range products and diversified clients)
  • Advanced technology and expertise
  • Highly qualified work force
  • Consolidated public finances
  • Competitive taxation.
Weak Points

Germany's weaknesses for FDI are:

  • Eastern part of the Germany (former DDR) is struggling to catch up with the western part in many areas
  • Ageing population weighs heavily on growth
  • German economy is highly dependant on exports, especially to China
  • Ageing infrastructure
  • Unproductive service sector
  • Insufficient infrastructure for development of start-ups
  • A low investment/GDP ratio
  • Lack of engineers
Government Measures to Motivate or Restrict FDI
Germany distinguishes itself with a business climate compliant with international standards and with transparency of its judicial system. The German Government is implementing measures aimed at encouraging investments including:

  • Grants for investments (Cash Incentives Program: GRW)
  • Grants for R&D for different research categories (fundamental research, industrial research, experimental development)
  • Grants for hiring personnel (programs focusing on recruitment support, training support, wage subsidies and on-the-job training)
  • Public loans
  • Public guarantees

For more information, visit the website of Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI).

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Protection of Foreign Investment

Bilateral Investment Conventions Signed By Germany
Germany has signed bilateral investment treaties (BITs) with numerous countries. To see a list of participating countries, consult UNCTAD website.
International Controversies Registered By UNCTAD
The ISDS Navigator contains information about known international arbitration cases initiated by investors against States pursuant to international investment agreements. Germany is involved in 69 cases as Home State of claimant and in 4 cases as Respondent State.
Organizations Offering Their Assistance in Case of Disagreement
ICCWBO , International court of arbitration, International chamber of commerce
ICSID , International Center for settlement of Investment Disputes
Member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency
Germany is a signatory to the Convention of the MIGA.
Country Comparison For the Protection of Investors Germany OECD United States
Index of Transaction Transparency* 5.0 6.5 7.0
Index of Manager’s Responsibility** 5.0 5.3 9.0
Index of Shareholders’ Power*** 5.0 7.3 9.0

Source: The World Bank - Doing Business, Latest data available.

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Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment

Freedom of Establishment
Foreign investors are generally subject to the same conditions as German investors and there are no administrative controls specifically for foreign investments in Germany, and no specific key laws or regulatory authorities that govern foreign investment. Regulated industries (such as pharmaceuticals, military products, radioactive substances and so on) are subject to special controls.
Acquisition of Holdings

Foreign investors may have a majority holding in the capital of a local company.

Under the Foreign Trade and Payments Ordinance, the Federal Ministry of Economics can prohibit or restrict the direct or indirect acquisition of at least 10% of the voting rights in a German company. There are two areas of review:

  • Sector-specific review, e.g. defense sector
  • Cross-sectoral review, pursuant public order or public security in sensitive sector such as critical infrastructure and software for energy, IT and health sector
Obligation to Declare
Germany Trade & Invest (the agency responsible for the promotion of foreign investment) provides information about necessary authorisations or declarations.
The most recent changes to the German Foreign Investment Act (the GFI Act) were adopted by the German parliament on 17 June 2020 and came into force on 16 July 2020, when the GFI Act was published in the Federal Law Gazette.
Competent Organisation For the Declaration
Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi)
Requests For Specific Authorisations
Investments must be governed by the policies and the procedures specific to the sector.

Private share sales are usually subject to the following closing conditions/conditions precedent:

  • Merger control clearance by the Federal Cartel Office or the European Commission.
  • Foreign investment control clearance by the Ministry of Economics and Technology.

Under the Foreign Trade and Payments Ordinance, the Federal Ministry of Economics can prohibit or restrict the direct or indirect acquisition of at least 10% of the voting rights in a German company. There are two areas of review:
-    Sector-specific review, e.g. defense sector.
-    Cross-sectoral review, pursuant public order or public security in sensitive sector such as critical infrastructure and software for energy, IT and health sector.

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Office Real Estate and Land Ownership

Possible Temporary Solutions
Temporary office solutions
The Possibility of Buying Land and Industrial and Commercial Buildings
There are no restrictions on the ownership or occupation of real estate by foreigners in Germany.
Risk of Expropriation
According to German law, for public purposes only and in a non-discriminatory manner, private property can be expropriated. The process must be transparent, and victims must receive prompt, adequate and effective compensation.

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Investment Aid

Forms of Aid
Germany offers numerous incentives to all investors, regardless of nationality or origin.
Incentive packages may be structured as:

  •     Tax incentives.
  •     Cash incentives (subsidies paid out in connection to proven investments).
  •     Loans with preferred conditions or guarantees.
  •     Capital/shareholding investments by state authorities, in exceptional cases.

For more information, please visit the website of Germany Trade and Invest

Privileged Domains
State aid is granted throughout Germany for creating (long-term) employment, for developing research, development and innovation (R&D), for environmental protection, for public guarantee and public loan programmes.

For more information, refer to the Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI) is the economic development agency of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Privileged Geographical Zones
Regions with the highest incentives rates offer grants of up to 30 percent of eligible expenditures for small enterprises. Small enterprises situated in the border regions to Poland may receive up to 40 percent funding. These higher incentive rate regions are mainly situated in Eastern Germany. (Macklenburg- Vorpommern, Brandenburg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia).
Free-trade zones
The eastern part of Germany. There are five free trade zones established under EU law: Bremerhaven, Cuxhaven, Deggendorf, Duisburg and Hamburg.
Public aid and funding organisations
Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI)

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Investment Opportunities

The Key Sectors of the National Economy
Consumer goods, since the number of inhabitants is the highest in Europe. Subcontracted goods, as Germany is the the leading producer of machine tools. This sector may see a new boom thanks to the development of numerical industrial processes. The other key sectors are: advanced materials, aerospace industry, agriculture, automobile industry, pharmaceutical and chemical industry, wholesale, retail, online trade.
High Potential Sectors
Services to consumers, high-tech, multimedia, electronic, health and biotechnologies, renewable energies (ambitious plan of development in solar, wind and renewable energy storage)
Privatization Programmes
There is no privatisation program ongoing. As a matter of principle, Germany treats foreigners equally in privatisations.
Tenders, Projects and Public Procurement
Tenders Info , Tenders in Germany
Ted - Tenders Electronic Daily , Business opportunities in EU
DgMarket , Tenders Worldwide

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Sectors Where Investment Opportunities Are Fewer

Monopolistic Sectors
Education. State-owned enterprises are limited to basic services (water, energy and national rail transportation).

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Finding Assistance For Further Information

Investment Aid Agency
Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI) 
Other Useful Resources
Investment Guide to Germany (GTAI)
Doing Business Guides
Doing Buisness and investing in Germany (PwC)

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Latest Update: July 2024