On 23 June 2016 the European Union was shaken by what may be described as a political earthquake. The loss of the EU’s second-largest net contributor and the world’s fifth largest economy is a thunderous wake-up call.
The UK is Germany’s fifth largest export market accounting for 6.2% of all exports, and is the largest single export market for German cars, importing 769,000 in 2017. Bilateral trade yields a surplus of 45 billion EUR in Germany’s favour. Germany still remains the UK’s second largest export market.
It is not just trade that is at stake. There are 3,000 German subsidiaries with 412,000 employees in the UK, and conversely the British have more than 2,500 in Germany and 267,000 staff.
British companies may consider establishing or expanding their presence in continental Europe and thereby remain within the EU. Likewise German companies, fearing loss of trade, may react similarly and open new or additional offices in the UK.
Even if the rules change, business will continue. Whether the UK maintains free access to the single market or trade barriers are applied, one thing is certain: the voice of commerce shall prevail over that of politics.