For Germany, which has built close ties to China, these are frightening times.
Many European countries have looked for growth in China, but Germany more than most.
A note by Morgan Stanley in early August showed that Germany is much more exposed than other euro-zone economies to China, with almost 7 percent of the country’s total merchandise exports going to China. France, the next biggest euro country with trade to China, has just under 4 percent, while other major euro-zone companies have less than 3 percent.
China is now Germany’s fourth-largest trading partner, behind, France, the United States and Great Britain. But this statistic belies a greater, more worrying truth.
Germany has come to rely on China in a way it does not rely on the other countries, as a significant driver of growth, and of political influence. In 2014, Chinese exports to Germany were €79.3 billion, while German exports to China were €74 billion.
The 30 firms listed on Germany’s blue-chip DAX stock index alone have 672 subsidiaries in China, according to EAC, a consultancy. The only DAX company without business ties to China is domestic energy firm E.ON.
On average, DAX firms last year relied on China for 13.3 percent of sales, worth some €132.1 billion, or $146 billion, according to calculations made by Handelsblatt and EAC.
Volkswagen, Europe’s largest automaker, currently generates nearly a third of its global sales — 32.2 percent — from China alone.
For frugal Germans, Chinese consumers had been a godsend.
The country’s growing, acquisitive-minded middle class were keen to buy products Made in Germany, and their consumption had for most of the last decade offset traditionally tight-fisted Germans, as well as many Europeans whose spending was curbed by the impact of the global financial crisis.
But this summer, the shopping Shangri La that was China may be turning into a mirage.
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