German industry is preparing for another difficult year and is calling for significant reforms to strengthen Germany as a business location. At the start of the Hanover Trade Fair on Monday, the President of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), Siegfried Russwurm, said that the reforms introduced by the federal government so far, such as the Growth Promotion Act and the reduction in bureaucracy, were far from enough to make the industrial location future-proof.

This year, German industrial production will decline again, by 1.5 percent compared to 2023, according to BDI estimates. “Despite moderate recovery prospects, we must not deceive ourselves: Overall, production figures have been showing a worrying downward trend for years,” said Russwurm.

This year, the focus of the world’s largest industrial show is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and hydrogen as an energy source. Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) said at the start of the trade fair: “What you can feel here is innovation, the desire to develop new things. This applies in particular to the really big task of how do we manage to deal with the challenges of digitalization and the opportunities to use.” AI can already be found in even the smallest products today. This also helps to use fewer resources. The Prime Minister of the trade fair partner country Norway, Jonas Gahr Støre, was also impressed: “Many of the things we saw today would have been science fiction if they had been introduced five years ago.”

Around 4,000 exhibitors from 60 countries

Scholz again received demands from the industry on his way through the exhibition halls. BDI President Russwurm said, “What the federal government has done so far is worthy of honor. But it’s just not enough.” The decline in industrial production, which has been observed for years, cannot be stopped. “We need competitive energy prices that can be planned in the long term,” demanded Russwurm again. In addition, corporate taxes would have to be reduced. “The current burden of almost 30 percent is a serious negative location factor.”

The President of the Association of German Mechanical and Plant Engineering (VDMA), Karl Haeusgen, also called for more speed in economic policy. The industrial locations of Germany and Europe do not need debates about decline, but rather courageous reforms in order to remain competitive. “New investment projects are currently taking place mainly abroad, for example in the USA. If we do nothing to counteract this, this will lead to a continued weakening of our economy,” said Haeusgen. “However, the passion for freedom is missing in current economic policy.”

Around 4,000 exhibitors from 60 countries present themselves at the Hannover Messe. The key themes are the development of more climate-friendly production and solutions for the energy transition. In 2023, 130,000 visitors came to the trade fair, significantly fewer than before the corona pandemic. In 2019, 215,000 visitors were counted. In 2020, the exhibition was canceled for the first time since it was founded in 1947 due to corona. In 2021 it only took place digitally.