In 2018 we set up two offices in Germany – one in Berlin, where I work alongside my colleague Martha, and one in Dusseldorf, led by another colleague, Marc.
We’re part of a network of 20 offices around the world, all working to deliver the goals of our International Strategy, which are to:
- Raise Wales’ international profile
- Increase exports and inward investment
- Showcase Wales as a globally responsible nation
Germany is an important partner for Wales in many respects. Economically, it is consistently one of the largest export markets for Welsh goods and there also more than 100 German companies based in Wales, employing over 10,000 people.
But it’s more than just business. There are over 11,000 people from Germany who have made Wales their home, and with over 26 twinning agreements between our towns and cities, some many decades old, our connections are well established.
Wales in Germany 2021
Last January, we launched a year-long campaign to showcase the relationship between our two nations, demonstrating that despite leaving the European Union, we are committed to our relationship with our nearest neighbours.
We set out to encourage new partnerships. Reflecting back, I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved by working together in what was a difficult year everybody.
By working with many varied stakeholders, we have sparked new conversations. For example, Clwstwr established a new partnership with MFG Baden-Württemberg to encourage collaboration between our creative industries, and the British Council Germany’s annual literature seminar focused on contemporary Welsh literature, connecting writers with publishers, translators and journalists from Germany and beyond.
In business, we supported Welsh companies with market visits to Germany, as well as represented Wales at some key trade shows including Medica, SemiCon Europa and the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Our unique approach to future generations has also given us an opportunity to build new connections, with a growing interest from Germany in the Well-being of Future Generations Act. Sophie Howe, the Future Generations Commissioner has visited the German Chancellery and members of the Young Leaders Academy took part in One Young World Munich in the summer, engaging with other young people on addressing the climate emergency.
These people-to-people connections have been an important part of the year. Despite the pandemic meaning physical travel has been limited, we have hosted digital events to build links with friends of Wales in Germany – from hosting a networking evening with German alumni of Welsh universities, to a St David’s Day cook-along and most recently, a green journey through Wales live from the National Botanic Garden.
Germany’s previous Ambassador to the UK, His Excellency Andreas Michaelis, has also visited Wales, first digitally and later in person. As part of the Wales in Germany legacy, later this year the German Embassy will host their annual careers fair in Cardiff – the first time this event has been held outside London.
It’s difficult to distil a whole year’s worth of activity into a single blog, so there are of course other connections that I’ve missed, but they are no less important, and I look forward to seeing these collaborations develop and creating new opportunities for people in Wales to engage internationally.
My time in Germany is coming to an end and I’m moving back home. It has been an absolute privilege to represent Wales in Germany, a country I first visited as an exchange student in 1983!
As I prepare to hand the baton over to somebody else, we also transition from Wales in Germany 2021 to Wales in Canada 2022.
My colleagues Andrew and Yacine in Montreal will build on the work we’ve done this year, highlighting Wales’ growing connections with Canada and the many opportunities for businesses, universities and cultural organisations across the Atlantic.
Head of Germany, Welsh Government