Berlin, March 18, 2021 – US companies in Germany and German companies in the US are having a mixed business year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, 2021 gives cause for hope: The Biden effect is having a positive impact on the transatlantic economy - especially in terms of predictability and reliability. These are among the findings of the Transatlantic Business Barometer 2021, an annual survey of AmCham Germany member companies conducted together with Roland Berger.
"Our member companies are facing major tasks," says Frank Sportolari, President of AmCham Germany. "Many companies are suffering from the pandemic. That is why aid packages here and in the US must continue to be arranged and made available to companies quickly," Sportolari adds. Nevertheless, the member companies of AmCham Germany are looking forward to 2021 with hope. "The joint vaccine development of our members BioNTech and Pfizer has proven how strong the transatlantic will for cooperation and collaboration is. It is imperative that we build on this effort," says Sportolari.
"Our members agree: Both sides – the US and the EU – should approach each other equally and not wait for the other partner," says Simone Menne, Executive Vice president of AmCham Germany. "Both sides should now quickly define common interests and goals in order to find answers to the transatlantic partnership’s pressing issues," Menne notes. "Our members expect a reliable commitment to dismantling trade barriers and the will to cooperate on both sides of the Atlantic."
"The German-American relationship is of outstanding relevance for both sides," says Marcus Berret, Global Managing Director at Roland Berger. "With the new US Administration, there are high hopes on both sides of the Atlantic for a revitalization of relations," Berret continues. "It is also necessary because in addition to dealing with the pandemic, we face other major challenges such as climate change and an economic and soceital transformation toward greater sustainability. Only by working collectively on these will we be successful."
Mixed business year 2020, yet high expectations for 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic and the US presidential election have had a particular impact on the business year 2021. As a result, many German companies in the US are still cautious about their plans to increase investments. Nevertheless, three-quarters of the companies surveyed say they expect a positive sales trend in 2021. The predictability for investment conditions has also improved. While in 2020 only 27% rated this investment factor in the US as good, this year it is 57%. The Biden effect is also noticeable in the overall reliability of politics: For example, the share of those who perceive reliability as poor decreased from 81% in 2020 to 36% this year.
US companies in Germany are resistant to crisis, investment factors are criticized
Despite the pandemic, almost half of the US companies surveyed were able to achieve revenue growth in Germany, and a third of respondents said they had also made investments and hired employees in 2020. Nevertheless, the general assessment of Germany as a business location has declined continuously in recent years. Whereas in 2018 91% of respondents said they rated Germany as a good or very good investment location, this year the figure is only 63%. In particular, the quality of digital infrastructure is perceived as poor by more than half of those surveyed. German politics is given a good rating in terms of reliability: More than two-thirds of respondents said they could rely on politics in Germany.
First 50 days of Biden: Europe and the US must approach one another
AmCham Germany members were also asked in a survey about the first 50 days of the Biden Administration. Almost all respondents said that transatlantic economic relations will improve over the next four years under Joe Biden's presidency. Businesses hope for improvement especially in current travel restrictions. More than half of those surveyed are affected by the restrictions in place.
In general, the first 50 days of the Biden administration are perceived positively. Eighty-one percent of those surveyed have the impression that Joe Biden has so far followed up his promises with action. During his presidency, Biden should focus primarily on trade as well as climate and energy policy (69% and 68%). This is followed by digitization and security and defense policy (41% and 43%).
Overall, surveyed members expect greater cooperation between the US and Europe on the issues listed above. About 70% of the respondents reported that both sides should equally seek dialogue and opportunities for cooperation.
About the surveys
A total of 41 US companies with locations and revenue worth roughly €75 billion in Germany and 31 German companies with locations and revenue of more than €50 billion in the US participated in the Transatlantic Business Barometer 2021. A total of 88 AmCham Germany members participated in the survey on the first 50 days of the Biden Administration. The results will be officially presented today during a video conference by Simone Menne, Executive Vice President of AmCham Germany, and Marcus Berret, Global Managing Director of Roland Berger.
The results of the survey on the first 50 days of the Biden Administration can be found here.