German economics minister sees SMEs as “secret weapon”: report
German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier had developed a strategy for the “Mittelstand” or small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the newspaper Handelsblatt reported on Wednesday.
“In the eyes of foreigners, SMEs are Germany’s secret weapon and, unlike the Dax 30 companies, SMEs are proving to be extremely robust,” wrote Altmaier in a 13-point paper seen by Handelsblatt.
Germany’s “Mittelstand” was diverse and included “many family businesses with well-known names such as Hipp, Villeroy & Boch and Bitburger,” Altmaier noted.
The minister said that he wanted to strengthen Germany as a business location in the face of international tax competition. This could be achieved through measures including tax incentives for research, especially for SMEs, and better tax conditions for digital innovation goods.
The digitization of the German economy should take place in a targeted way, partly through the expansion of the grids as well as through digital education, said the minister.
Moreover, Germany and Europe should become a leading location for the development of artificial intelligence (AI), a project which Altmaier’s paper referred to as AI-Airbus.
The minister also sought to reframe his controversial industrial strategy 2030 to ensure that it would focus expressly on the importance of SMEs.
“The strength of the German economy is based on the co-operation of successful medium-size enterprises and large-scale enterprises,” he wrote, adding “it must be ensured that the Industrial Strategy 2030 strengthens this cooperation while taking into account the interests of SMEs.”
Back in February, Altmaier presented the industrial strategy 2030 that seeks to make Germany’s industry more competitive internationally.
The Federation of German Industries (BDI) and the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry had criticized that family businesses and SMEs were not properly accounted for in the strategy.
Industries had been calling for better conditions for SMEs in Germany for a long time. In June, the BDI and the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations called for a national governmental strategy to support SMEs, including limiting energy costs for SMEs.
The two associations also called on the government to reduce taxes for SMEs, noting it was “high time” to reform corporate tax law in order to reduce the financial burdens on SMEs to a maximum of 25 percent.