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Berlin – Economy


Germany is the largest economy in Europe and the third largest economy in the world, behind the United States and Japan. It is ranked fifth in the world in terms of purchasing power parity. The export of goods is an essential part of the German economy and one of the main factors of its wealth. According to the World Trade Organization, Germany is the world’s top exporter with $912 billion exported in 2005 (Germany’s exports to other Eurozone countries are included in this total). It is second in imports only to the United States and has a large trade surplus (160.6 billion euros in 2005). In the trade of services (tourism, financial services, engineering, etc) it ranks second behind the United States. Most of the country’s exports are in engineering, especially in automobiles, machinery, and chemical goods. In terms of total capacity to generate electricity from wind power, Germany is first in the world and it is also the main exporter of wind turbines.

Although problems created by the German Reunification of 1990 have begun to diminish, the standard of living remains higher in the western half of the country. Germans continue to be concerned about a relatively high level of unemployment, especially in the former East German states where unemployment tops 18%. In spite of its extremely good performance in international trade, domestic demand has stalled for many years because of stagnating wages and consumer insecurity. Germany’s government runs a restrictive fiscal policy and has cut numerous regular jobs in the public sector. But while regular employment in the public sector shrank, “irregular” government employment such as “one euro” jobs (temporary low-wage positions), government supported self-employment, and job training increased.

Before the reunification of Germany and the two Berlin parts in 1990, the city of West Berlin received substantial subsidies from the West German state to compensate for its geographic isolation from West Germany. Many of those subsidies were phased out after 1990. The reduced financial support for the city and its gradual economic decline have produced fiscal difficulties for Berlin’s city government and forced it to cut funding for various programs.

Core and fast-growing sectors are communications, life sciences, mobility and services with information and communication technologies, media and music, advertising and design, biotechnology and environmental services, transportation and medical engineering.  Berlin is among the top five congress cities in the world and is home to Europe’s biggest convention center in the form of the Internationales Congress Centrum (ICC).  It contributes to the rapidly increasing tourism sector which encompasses 581 hotels with 87,800 beds and numbers around 15.9 million overnight stays, 7.1 million hotel guests and 140 million one-day-visitors in 2006, making the city the third most visited city in the European Union.