Wales will strive to maintain its strong trading links with Germany as the UK’s new relationship with the EU takes shape, Welsh Minister for International Relations Eluned Morgan said during a visit to the country by the German Ambassador.
Dr Peter Wittig, Germany’s Ambassador to the UK, met the Minister and First Minister Mark Drakeford in Cardiff Bay, toured Cardiff University and attended trade talks with Welsh Government representatives, followed by a reception for the German diaspora in Wales at Cardiff Castle.
The following day, the Ambassador visited German businesses based in North Wales, including Innogy in Mostyn and the Airbus factory at Broughton.
Germany is one of Wales’ strongest trading partners. 2018 saw just over 18 per cent of all Welsh goods exported outside the UK going to Germany, with a total value of more than £3bn.
Germany is also a strong contributor to the tourism industry in Wales. After Ireland, Germany supplies the joint second-greatest number of visitors to Wales – an annual total of 87,000 visitors, according to recent figures.
This accounts for eight per cent of all international visits, and about seven per cent of total tourism spend.
Eluned Morgan, the Minister for International Relations and Welsh Language, said:
“I was very pleased to meet Dr Wittig, and that we were able to discuss the ongoing and future relationship between Germany and Wales.
“Outside of the UK, Germany is our strongest trade partner, and as such talks such as these are all-important as we continue to look at ways to mutually enhance those links between us.”
The Minister added:
“As the UK leaves the EU, our position is that Wales remains open to business with its European partners.
“We want to do everything we can to maintain the strong economic, cultural and trade links we have already built with a number of partner nations in the EU.
“As we recently set out in our International Strategy, we are working hard to ensure that we don’t lose any of those vital connections built up with European partners, such as Germany.”
The Minister added:
“We have an incredibly strong base of German businesses working in Wales and employing Welsh workers, and I was very pleased to see that Dr Wittig had the opportunity to see the work being carried out by Innogy at its Flintshire base in the Port of Mostyn, through its work on the Gwynt y Môr offshore wind farm project.”
With an installed capacity of 576 megawatts, Gwynt y Môr is among the largest commercial offshore wind farms worldwide.
A total of 160 wind turbines produce enough electricity to supply approximately 400,000 households annually with renewable energy
Dr Wittig said:
“I would like to thank the Welsh Government very much for this kind invitation. Wales and Germany already boast deep ties in many areas – business, culture, trade and people – ties we can trust and ties we can build upon.
“This should encourage us to overcome the uncertainty of the past three years – we can be bold in our ambitions and build a lasting future relationship.
“Germany is the most significant export destination for Wales with one fifth of all Welsh exports going to Germany, while German exports to Wales amounted to £3.2bn in 2018.
“I can see more opportunities in many sectors including in renewable energies, even closer academic ties, research on future industries and joint infrastructure projects.”