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Manufacturing and industry


German car factory
German car factory

Manufacturing and industry have long been central to German economic development, although recent global and European trends are forcing changes upon the German economy. Industry helped the country recover economically from World War II and from the unification of East and West Germany. Although the economy has gradually moved in the direction of services, manufacturing and industry are still important in the country and accounted for 30.1 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2007. Germany is a leading producer of such products as chemical products, electronics, food and beverages, machinery and machine tools, and motor vehicles.

Large-scale manufacturing enterprises have traditionally been concentrated in several areas. The state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which includes the Ruhr region, was once Germany’s center of heavy industry. The majority of Germany’s iron, steel, and bituminous coal came from the Ruhr region. Its early and intense development have also made this region the equivalent of the rustbelt area in the United States, where traditional manufacturing has been in decline and unemployment is high. Today, North Rhine-Westphalia is developing as a center of research in such areas as biotechnology, medical engineering, and nanotechnology. The area around the confluence of the Rhine and Main rivers forms another major industrial region, comprising the cities of Frankfurt am Main, Wiesbaden, Mainz, and Offenbach. They produce metals, electronic equipment, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and motor vehicles.

To the south, Stuttgart and Munich are also manufacturing hubs. Their products include aircraft, textiles and clothing, office machinery, optical instruments, and beer.

Berlin, the Hannover-Brunswick area, and the port cities of Hamburg, Bremen, Kiel, and Wilhelmshaven are other important industrial centers.

Following reunification, industry in the former East Germany suffered from a number of problems stemming from the long years when it was protected from international competition. Some industries—such as chemicals and plastics, shipbuilding, textiles, and motor vehicles—lost their markets to superior or less expensive products made in western Germany or abroad. Germany broke up most large eastern corporations and transferred them from state ownership into private hands. Some enterprises were taken over by their own managers; most were bought in bits and pieces by West German or foreign investors. By the mid-2000s worker productivity and the quality of goods produced had risen in the east.

German automobile manufacturers, including BMW and Porsche, opened factories in eastern Germany. The east, moreover, has become known for its high-technology instruments, such as lasers and optical goods. Investments in the electrical engineering and chemicals manufacturing sectors have also helped bring down unemployment in the east. "Germany" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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