The US and Germany have gone through a tough couple of years economically, which were dominated by the pandemic. Covid-19 has severely shaken up traditional business sectors and also created major difficulties in supply chains. Despite these challenges, German companies operating in the US have a positive outlook for the new year. Almost 8 out of 10 companies are planning to increase their investments in the US in 2022. At the same time, two-thirds (67 percent) of all companies surveyed intend to increase their staff in the US in 2022.
Germany and the USA remain closely intertwined
In cooperation with the German American Chamber of Commerce in the USA, we survey German companies in the US every year on their situation and expectations for the future. The current survey clearly shows that companies have emerged stronger from the Covid crisis than before and that the US market continues to be a major source of revenue and profit for German companies. Germany and the United States are and remain closely intertwined, both in terms of exchange of goods and services and in terms of investments.
Companies have turned the crisis into an opportunity
The confidence of many companies does not come as a surprise, but is the result of serious restructuring efforts as well as automation and digital transformation projects that have been implemented since the start of the pandemic. The removal of trade barriers and elimination of tariffs on imports and exports between the US and the EU in 2021 also had a positive effect on the assessments of the companies surveyed. The German change of government was also a contributing factor. Many companies expect that this will be to the benefit of transatlantic relations between the two countries in the future.
Those surveyed expect more turnover and economic growth
The figures in our survey show how optimistic German companies are about their business in the US. 85 percent of those surveyed generated growth in net revenue in the US in 2021. Just 42 percent achieved that in the prior year. Moreover, 90 percent expect the US economy to grow in 2022. Almost half (43 percent) even expect growth of more than three percent. The development of their own companies is projected to be even more positive: 93 percent expect further growth in revenue and 88 percent an increase in profits for their companies in the USA.
Managing Partner International Business
KPMG AG Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft
Partner, Audit, USA Country Practice Head
KPMG AG Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft
Future prospects in the USA boost China
German companies in the USA expect sales to continue to rise in 2022 (+8 percentage points compared to 2021) and profits to increase as well (+16 percentage points). According to the 2022 business climate survey just published by AHK China in cooperation with KPMG in Germany, the picture is different for German companies in China: Fewer German companies there expect rising sales (-3 percentage points) and rising profits (-7 percentage points) in 2022. This is due to the increasingly difficult regulatory environment in China, whereas transatlantic relations have recently eased considerably.
Although the economic environment is darkening due to supply bottlenecks, rising inflation and increasing decoupling of the major economic powers, German companies remain "bullish" in the USA. Everything suggests that German companies will continue to prosper strongly in the USA for the foreseeable future.
Unstable supply chains are a concern for companies
Despite the high level of confidence, important issues and challenges remain. One of them is the reliability of supply chains. 71 percent of the companies surveyed stated that their supply chains have been under increased pressure in the past 18 months. And more than half (54 percent) consider problems with supply chains one of the three largest challenges. 41 percent are of the opinion that the resilience of their supply chains in the US needs to be improved.
ESG issues increasingly on the agenda
Investors, customers and employees increasingly expect companies to make more environmentally and socially responsible decisions. The majority of German companies in the US are meeting these ESG expectations and want to increase their budgets for sustainability programs. 56 percent plan to increase their investments in this area in the coming three years. Energy-saving and recycling projects are the highest priority in that regard.
Workforce shortage jeopardizes growth plans
Concerns that the persistent shortage of skilled labor will jeopardize growth plans is increasing among companies. Last year, 45 percent of respondents considered the workforce shortage in the US as one of their three greatest challenges. This year, 75 percent do so. This could thwart the growth plans of many companies, because 67 percent have specific plans to increase their workforce in 2022. One possible solution could be in-house training programs. A third of those surveyed had already trained their own staff in such programs in the US in 2021.
Cyber risks are a particular focus in the USA
The second greatest need for improvement in their companies in the USA, from the respondents' point of view, is protection against cyber risks. Almost one in three (30 percent) believe that corresponding improvements are necessary in their company. This means that cyber risks are emphasised even more in the USA than in other countries. This is likely to be due to the Chinese and Russian cyber attacks in the USA in 2021.
We conducted the survey together with the German American Chamber of Commerce in the USA from November 1 to 21, 2021. 102 German companies in the US participated.