By Emma Hurt
For the Savannah Morning News
While coastal Georgia’s concerted German strategy is relatively new, the Germany/Georgia economic relationship is certainly not. Today, the country comprises Georgia’s second-largest trade market, second-largest import market and fourth-largest export market.
The Port of Savannah’s container trade with Germany jumped 75 percent between 2012 and 2016, the fastest rate among other East Coast ports. During fiscal year 2017, which ended last June, the Port of Brunswick shipped out about 124,000 Mercedes, BMW and Volkswagen vehicles to the rest of the world.
Germany long ago picked Atlanta as host for key offices serving the Southeastern U.S.: its Consulate General and the German American Chamber of Commerce. For its part, while Georgia has had representation in Germany since 1973, the state decided to move its European economic development office from Brussels to Munich in 2005.
Lesser, who was commissioner at the time, said after analysis they realized that Munich would be a better fit as a geographic hub of European business. “That has proven to be correct,” he said, calling it the most successful of the state’s foreign offices.
Abshoff, managing director of the Munich office, agreed that this decision has paid off. Before 2005, there were about 200 German companies with operations in Georgia, she explained. In the 12 years since moving the office to Munich, that number has jumped to 500.