Andreas Gerber is the Director of International Business at Bremeninvest. It’s his job to help international companies establishing a base for their German and European business in the north German city of Bremen to find their feet. For some time now, he has seen how European agencies, nations and regions have been pouncing on UK-based organisations to get them to resettle on their turf. He believes there is another way.
Mr Gerber, are you saying that EU nations and regions only want to grab themselves the best piece of the Brexit cake?
I heard someone saying that the fight is on. We are still a long way from knowing the final details of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU – but already, everyone wants a piece of the cake. Numerous countries are fighting over the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Banking Authority (EBA). Every nation, every city, and every town wants to be the new home to an administrative office, branch office or a company when the move is made from the island to the mainland.
But isn’t that Bremeninvest’s aim too? To attract businesses to the mainland, or rather, to Bremen?
We’re delighted to see businesses put roots down in Bremen, of course. But in this instance it is much more than a matter of simply picking a location. We want to be a partner that supports companies through the Brexit process. After all, there are lots of possible solutions to the repercussions of Brexit. Relocation is just one way of accessing mainland Europe. We don’t know what shape Brexit will ultimately take. But we do know that economies cannot thrive without trade. And in this age of globalisation, that means international trade. The United Kingdom is Bremen’s third biggest trading partner. No matter what the future brings, we will still be backing British companies, many of whom we have good relations with. We are backing the principle of partnership.
What makes Bremen a special location for businesses? How is it different?
Bremen is situated in the heart of northern Germany. Our port is one of the largest in Europe, our airport links directly to the city centre, and our cargo distribution centre is the best in Germany. Bremen is the only city in Germany where aviation and aerospace are at home. Many world class institutes operate with partners all over the world. Other strong branches of industry in Bremen include the maritime economy, automotive, logistics, food production and wind energy. All this means we are well connected – to the rest of Germany, to Europe and, in particular, to the UK.
What advice would you give to those companies that are now wondering how they should approach the market in mainland Europe?
Ultimately it comes down to a simple question of maths: Does it make more economic sense to stay in the UK and adapt to the new processes? Or to relocate to a country within the EU or to open a European branch office? That’s not an easy question. That’s why Bremeninvest aims to support companies with answers to all their questions on Brexit. We represent Bremen as a business location. As an economic development agency, we can guide companies through arrival and capital investment, and assist them in finding new partners and overcoming all the bureaucratic hurdles.
Is it worthwhile relocating a company’s headquarters, or at least setting up a branch office?
The truth is I don’t know. Nobody does yet. But what I do know is that businesses cannot ignore the question. We need to keep pushing for answers. There are no guarantees for worst or best case scenarios, no guarantees for a hard or a soft Brexit.
The discussions are still ongoing and the deals are still a long way off being agreed – so is there any point in making concrete plans yet?
Brexit isn’t something businesses can hope to just ‘ride out’. Companies who don’t take action will certainly lose out. They will be overtaken by the ones who got in there early to seek out the best solution. Those who act now to secure a partner that understands their needs and guides them through the entire process will be well prepared – no matter what shape Brexit finally takes. Bremeninvest is just that partner – we can also put businesses in touch with leading experts in areas such as taxes, duties, labour, import and export.
Mr Gerber, thank you for talking to us.
If you are interested in investing in Bremen from abroad, please feel free to contact Andreas Gerber, head of the international relocation team, +49 (0) 421 9600-123, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Chamber of Commerce for Bremen and Bremerhaven runs Brexit-themed events and has further information and newsletters on Brexit.
You can read all about living in Bremen in our Marketing for Bremen section.
You can find out about other things that Bremen has to offer from our city showcase: the city portal bremen.de has more information and useful tips for getting to know, and love, Bremen.
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