Corona and war weigh on export prospects

DIHK World Business Outlook in spring 2022 offers only a few rays of hope

In most parts of the world, German companies are bracing themselves for poorer business. This is according to the AHK World Business Outlook published by the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), for which the German Chambers of Commerce Abroad (AHK) surveyed around 4,200 member companies in all regions of the world. According to the survey, more than a third of companies (37 percent) expect the local economy to worsen, more than twice as many as in the fall of 2021. “The last time we experienced a similar change in sentiment was in the spring of 2020, when the first Corona shock had the global economy firmly in its grip,” said DIHK head of foreign trade Volker Treier, commenting on the assessments. In the survey period of March and April, slightly less than half of German companies abroad (48 percent) still assessed their current business situation as good. However, confidence in their own business in the current year has suffered a major setback: the balance of optimists and pessimists has almost halved compared with the previous survey.

War in Ukraine affects business in neighboring regions

At the same time, companies perceive the economic crisis very differently depending on the region of the world: in Eastern and Southeastern Europe (excluding EU countries), as well as Russia and Turkey, more than one in two German companies (54 percent) assess future economic development as poor. “The closer companies are to the war in Ukraine, the more directly or indirectly they feel the effects of the war and the associated sanctions,” says Treier. North America still scores best, with a good third (36 percent) of companies here taking a positive view of the economy – followed by South and Central America (29 percent).

Companies question locations and supply strategies

The changed global situation is also having an impact on location decisions and supply strategies. In the survey, one-third of companies say they are currently putting their international locations to the test. More than a quarter want to expand their supplier portfolio across regions, and more than a fifth see a need to relocate production to new sites. The different ways in which countries are dealing with the Corona pandemic, for example, also play a role here. The strict lockdown in China, for example, has led to almost half of the German companies based there (47 percent) feeling compelled to reconsider their locations. One in eight companies is even considering leaving the country.

von Stéphane Itasse
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