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The year 1997

Right through to the autumn, the global economy was characterised by high rates of growth, achieving a rate of growth in global gross domestic product of 4 percent, and a figure of 9.4 percent for global trade as a whole when averaged over the year. This growth in global trade was primarily driven forward by the USA, Canada, expanding economies in Western Europe such as Finland, Spain and the Netherlands, as well as by Asia's booming centres such as Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea. In the fourth quarter, however, the first signs of upheavals in the economic and financial systems in the Far East arose, and, in the following year, these would prove to be the forerunners of a far-reaching recession.

Exports, flourishing again, and the higher level of willingness to undertake investment in the exporting industry were responsible for Germany increasing its gross domestic product by 2.8 percent in real terms. The processing industry (production excluding construction) increased its sales by 4.3 percent – a notable result which, in many sectors, was based on increasing production by means of automation processes, cuts in the workforce and modest wage increases. All of these measures contributed to a reduction in the pressure exerted by industrial wage costs and maintaining competitiveness on the international scene. The reasonable demand for innovative products, the increase in productivity and competitive prices assisted the chemicals industry out of a phase of stagnation and helped it to increase its sales by 7 percent. Mechanical engineering also presented a healthy picture, cutting its personnel costs by reducing the workforce, increasing its export ratio (over 60 percent) and recording sales up by approximately 4 percent at the end of the year.

Annual report 1997 (German)