Survey: German remains indispensible for Dutch businesses, current German language ability insufficient

Monday, March 12, 2012

From here in Dutch:

The German language remains indispensable for the Dutch to successfully conduct business with its eastern neighbours. Many Dutch companies are dissatisfied with the language abilities of their staff and would like to see better education.

This confirms a new survey from the Dutch-German Chamber of Commerce (Nederlands-Duitse Handelskamer, DNHK) and Fenedex. Both organizations had questioned Dutch citizens in February about the issue. Result: 87% of respondents indicated that Dutch business would see more sales in Germany if they were better at German. 86% see mastering German as an absolute prerequisite in being able to export to Germany. Less than a third of the respondents (29.5%) saw the German language skills of its own employees as being sufficient. 66.3% find the German language abilities of its staff to be insufficient.

Germany is by far the largest export market for Dutch business. Almost two thirds of the GDP consists of exports. In 2011 the exports of goods and services to Germany was 90 billion euros.

Although 57% of businesses indicate that German business partners also accept English as a language of negotiations, only 7.7% of them believe that English alone is sufficient. 87.1% are of the opinion that English alone will allow a business to conduct successful export activities in Germany. "Imagine trying to get a contract with a family farm in southern Germany and you must compete against a number of German companies", said Dick de Boer, Chairman of the DNHK. With an English presentation and negotiation you now have a major handicap and must be at least twice as good as the competition."

Many participants took advantage of the opportunity to give their own proposals. Some even advocate teaching German in primary school, along English.

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