In accordance with its European Union membership, Germany applies the European Union (EU) rules that are in force in all European Union countries. While the EU has a rather liberal foreign trade policy, there is certain number of restrictions, especially on farm products, following the implementation of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy): the application of compensations on import and export of farm products, aimed at favouring the development of agriculture within the EU, implies a certain number of control and regulation systems for the goods entering the EU territory.
Moreover, for sanitary reasons, regarding Genetically Modified Organisms (after being allowed in the European territory), their presence should be systematically specified on packagings. The beef cattle bred on hormones is also forbidden to import.
The BSE crisis (often called the "mad cow disease") urged the European Authorities to strengthen the phytosanitary measures to make sure of the quality of meats entering and circulating in the EU territory. The principle of precaution is now widespread: in case of doubt, the import is prohibited until proof is made of the non-harmfullness of products.
Excise duties are also levied on certain products, especially on spirit.
>> To get further information on the VAT rates in Germany, please check the list of vat rates applied within the European Union (October 2003), as well as the Ministry of Finances web site.
>> To get further information on Excise duties, please check the European Union excise duty tables (December 2003).
To sell in Germany, it is vital to be represented on a regional level, either by independent regional agents, or by a national organisation with regional support. Regional division usually corresponds with the Länder. However, North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria can be divided into two areas each, owing to their very large size.
Germany is the world's leading country for the organisation of trade exhibitions and fairs: these events are vital for a company to make a name for itself, find out who its competition is, find new customers, and develop loyalty among longer-standing ones. One benchmark exhibition is EUROSHOP, the premier worldwide retail distribution exhibition, with almost 1,500 exhibitors. The cities which stage international trade fairs are: Cologne, D¨ısseldorf, Frankfurt, Hanover, Munich, Nuremberg, Berlin, Leipzig, Stuttgart, Hamburg and Essen.
In addition, regional exhibitions are held all over Germany, generally smaller and which are organised by either distributors or agents.
The 2 products certification and normalisation reference bodies for a company willing to export to Germany are the TUV and the Deutsches Institut fUr Normung ( DIN) which is a member of the European Committee of Normalization ( CEN), the European Telecommunications Standards Institute and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation.
All German technical rules (about 24,000 standards) are included in the DIN catalogue, and standards are inspected at least every 5 years. If a standard does not correspond anymore to the requirements, it is worked on. If it is not updated anymore, it is suppressed with no substitution. Standards can be used by anyone, but they are not compulsory. However, the State can base itself on certain DIN standards to establish enforced national standards.