An economical way for U.S. small- to medium-sized companies to sell their products in Germany is through the National Federation of Commercial Agencies and Distribution, according to the federation’s director, Andreas Paffhausen.

Speaking at a recent luncheon of the German American Chamber of Commerce at the Goethe Institut, Dr. Paffhausen said some 20,000 commercial agents belonging to the federation act as go-betweens for 30% of the 400 billion DM of goods sold annually in his country, which is Europe’s largest market.

He stressed that the agents could be particularly helpful now that German markets are highly competitive and often saturated.  The agents, he said, can provide a full range of services including order processing and assessments of the credit worthiness of customers.

A quarter of the agents have their own stockrooms and 90% of them represent more than one company, he added.

He also said that American suppliers may need to develop a network of agents because many of them work only regionally.  Agents are paid on a straight commission basis, he said, but may want additional payment for launching new products or providing customer service and repairs.

The best way to make contact with potential agents, according to Dr. Paffhausen, is by placing an advertisement in the CDH Association’s “HV” journal which is sent to its entire membership.  The CDH’s web site is, and more information may be obtained by contacting the chamber at (404) 239-9494; fax, (404) 264-1761.

by Mark Pierson