Hamburg, Germany, 28 September 2016 – Both as a customer and trader, Germany ranks number one in international trade. Every fifth German invoice (20%) is submitted abroad. No other European country comes close to this 20-per-cent mark (ranked second: Austria (16%), ranked third: Hungary and Bulgaria (14%), ranked fourth: Slovakia and Croatia (13%)).
When looking at Germany as a customer it is among the top 3 international trade buyers for 12 of the 13 countries surveyed. German companies and consumers even rank as the largest foreign buyer group in seven countries. These are the results of the research on foreign receivables as part of the EOS Survey ‘European Payment Practices’ 2016, for which market research institute TNS Infratest polled 3,000 decision-makers from 14 European countries.
“As an EU founding member Germany historically enjoys strong economic ties with neighbouring countries. German companies were quick to promote their product sales to other European countries. Imports from Europe, however, were for a long time of less significance for Germany. The EOS Survey now shows that this has changed,” says Hans-Werner Scherer, Chairman of the EOS Group's Board of Directors. “Germany has become the economic hub of the European market.” (See Diagram 1 and 2 on this)
EU legislation often lacking in effectiveness
Nearly every fourth European company expects their international trade share to markedly increase in the future. The structures for such a development often have yet to be established. On average, not even every second company surveyed regards itself as well prepared for processing receivables abroad (43%). Exceptions are companies in Germany (65%) and Austria (53%). In Western Europe the share is lowest in France (38%) and the UK (41%), whereas in Eastern Europe on average 39 per cent of representatives surveyed stated that they are well positioned for international trade. Russia, Bulgaria (36%) and Croatia (34%) were all significantly below the average.
Most companies point to country-specific legislation as the reason for existing uncertainties in international trade. As previously in the EOS Survey 2015, those surveyed ranked this aspect as the biggest challenge for their receivables management. “The European Union tries to mitigate this with, among other measures, the European order for payment procedure,” says Scherer. “However, linguistic barriers, cultural differences and sheer distances remain obstacles hampering receivables collection.” 45 per cent of companies surveyed stated that it would be difficult for them to collect receivables abroad without the assistance of an external service provider. “Country-specific know-how is key in cross-border cases. This is why local subsidiaries of international collection companies such as EOS work closely together when it comes to cross-border collection.”
Profiteers and outsiders in Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe saw a rise in optimism in international trade. Especially Polish, Bulgarian and Slovakian companies believe more strongly in 2016 than in the previous year that their share of cross-border receivables will markedly increase over the next two years (Poland + 8%, Slovakia and Bulgaria +7%). “For many Eastern European countries, access to the European market represents a chance for an economic upturn. One needs to look no further than the Polish success story. Many Eastern European countries hope for a similar development,” Scherer comments. The EOS Survey risk map shows, however, that the majority of European companies regard the risk of bad debt in Eastern Europe as markedly higher than in Western Europe. The countries least trusted for their payment reliability are currently Greece and Russia (see risk map).
Summary: European trade relations (Diagram 2)
- Companies in Europe most often trade with neighbouring countries
- Germany and France are the strongest international trade partners, followed by Austria and Poland
- France is of more economic significance in Western European countries, whereas Germany is an important partner throughout Europe
- Only Belgium has the United Kingdom among its top 3 international trade partners
- Slovakia is a top 3 international trade partner for four out of seven Eastern European countries
- Only about every tenth company (11%) has Greek companies or private clients among their customers.
- Country overview: Cross-border share in receivables portfolio (by volume)
- European trade relations – top 3
- Risk map for bad debt in Europe
About the EOS Survey ‘European Payment Practices’
In spring 2016, in cooperation with the independent market research organisation TNS Infratest, the EOS Group asked a total of 3,000 companies in 14 European countries about prevailing payment practices in their respective countries. 200 companies in each of the countries UK, Spain, France, Greece, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary and Belgium, and 400 companies from Germany, answered questions about their own payment experiences, economic developments in their countries and on issues relating to risk and receivables management. Further results from the survey can be found online at: http://www.eos-solutions.com/foreignreceivables2016
The EOS Group
The EOS Group is one of the leading international providers of customised financial services. The main focus is on receivables management covering three key business segments: fiduciary collection, debt purchase and business process outsourcing. With its workforce of nearly 8,000, EOS provides financial security with tailored services in the B2C and B2B segments for its approximately 20,000 customers in 28 countries worldwide through over 60 subsidiaries. Being connected to an international network of partner companies, the EOS Group has access to resources in more than 180 countries. Its key target sectors are banking, utilities and telecommunications, along with the public sector, real estate, mail order and e-commerce. More information: www.eos-solutions.com.
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