At the end of December 2020, the Foundation of German and Chinese Culture conducted an interview with the Managing Director of the German Association of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (BVMW) Markus Jerger.
The interview is published on the Chinese magazine World Market. In the year 1984 the first expenditure of the magazine appeared. World Market has its editorial office in Shanghai and is published by the Shanghai Electronic Commerce Promotion Center, which in turn belongs to the Shanghai Electronic Commerce Promotion Center. It is published bimonthly. It is one of the most influential general foreign trade magazines in China.
Read the interview between us below:
Question 1: As an association, how do you see the development of SME cooperation between Germany and China?
Answer 1: SMEs are an important cornerstone for the economic and social development of Germany and China alike. At the same time, SMEs are the most dynamic and creative force in the economy. For our association, I can say that German-Chinese SME cooperation has developed very positively and continues to grow.
Question 2: Do you think the cooperation between the two countries is sufficient? What more could be done?
Answer 2: First of all, our two countries can be proud of what they have achieved so far: China is Germany’s largest trading partner. In 2018, the bilateral trade volume amounted to almost 200 billion euros. We mainly export machinery, cars, automotive parts and electrical engineering. These are all industries dominated by medium-sized producers or suppliers.
Interest in China has also grown enormously in our association in recent years. Cooperation between member companies and Chinese partners exists in almost all economic sectors and in a wide variety of forms. This ranges from classic trading business to joint ventures in both countries – with a strong upward trend. And I am sure that there are many more opportunities and potential for expansion.
Question 3.1: How would you describe the characteristics of SMEs in Germany?
Answer 3.1: According to the common definition, SMEs in Germany include all companies with up to 500 employees and annual sales of less than 50 million euros. This applies to 99 percent of the total of around 3.5 million companies. SMEs generate more than every second euro (net value added) and form the backbone of German industry and services. A decisive criterion of the German SME sector is that the companies are owner-managed.
German SMEs place a great deal of emphasis on R&D and have many of their own patents and a high proportion of specialists and skilled workers. Of the approximately 2,700 “hidden champions” worldwide, half come from German SMEs.
In summary, German SMEs specialize in technology, production processes and product quality.
Question 3.2: What difficulty do you have in working with China?
Answer 3.2: The difficulty for German companies often lies in finding the right Chinese corporate partner. In many cases, there is no opportunity to get to know each other in order to develop a cooperation based on a product or a project. Precise planning and intensive, constant coordination are of great importance for German companies. We often see that the situation changes very quickly and very dynamically. In addition, financing is a major challenge for German companies in many cases.
Question 3.3: What do you think are the difficulty for companies from China?
Answer 3.3: There are different situations depending on the company. I think our employees in the service centers can assess any situation because they deal with it every day.
Question 4.1: How do you see the complementarity of SMEs in the two countries?
Answer 4.1: Companies are run by people. I think that people from our two countries can learn a lot from each other and from each other in terms of how they develop in each situation, region, industry and market. The concretization or concentration on one or another technique, on one product or one type often reveals itself in this process. As an association, we offer an ideal platform for this, with more than 2,000 events and entrepreneurial meetings every year, both nationally and internationally.
Question 4.2: How can cooperation be strengthened and promoted?
Answer 4.2: As an association, we have set up service centers in Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu and Changzhou. They are very closely connected with local associations and authorities. Qualified staff and experts are available to assist entrepreneurs in all matters. Incidentally, this infrastructure is also reflected in Germany in Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt.
We are pleased that SMEs from China are increasingly coming to Germany and becoming members. This enables us to provide them with even more targeted and better support in Germany.
Question 5: Please describe the functions and strengths of your association and how do you see the development of your association in China?
Answer 5: The BVMW is the largest, politically independent and cross-sectoral association representing the interests of small and medium-sized businesses in Germany. Within the framework of our SME alliance, we represent more than 32 associations of SMEs with a total of more than 960,000 members.
We make ourselves strong for each individual and all together for your interests. The networking idea is very important to us: We connect you with the right people and initiate the exchange of opinions and experiences with high-ranking politicians from Germany and the European Union.
At the same time, we are a competence and service cluster, both organizationally and in terms of content, with our Education Alliance, our SME Alliance Africa, the SME 4.0 Competence Center or DATASkils, the Data and Digitalization Center for German Business, to name just a few examples.
The development of our association in China is growing steadily with the support of the special economic zone and economic development.