Gas, oil, lithium, steel: Germany is so dependent on other countries

Gas, Oil, Lithium, Steel
Germany is so dependent on foreign countries

If supply chains are disrupted or if Germany cuts itself off from the commodity market, as is currently the case in the Ukraine war, the national economy will falter. The most important branches of industry are highly dependent on the supply of raw materials from the world market. A general vision.

For decades, Germany benefited from global free trade, which provided access to cheap goods and raw materials. The consequences of the dependency on supplies from abroad have already become apparent in the corona pandemic. Supply chains were broken, important raw materials were in short supply. The Ukraine war further exacerbated the “Made in Germany” situation. An overview of the situation in the most important sectors:

Automotive industry

There are many different raw materials and primary products in automobiles. with light metals aluminum Y magnesium China and Russia, for example, have particularly high global market shares, with Russia’s Rusal group the largest single supplier of aluminium. The Russian Federation is equally powerful as a supplier of precious metals. palladium Y platinumwhich are needed for catalytic converters.

In addition it is heist an indispensable resource in the construction of automobiles and engines. Conventional iron ore often comes from several major producers, such as China, Brazil, Australia, or India. In the case of special steels with chromium, titanium or nickel components, the dependence on certain sources may be greater. With Norilsk Nickel, Russia has one of the main producers of nickel.

nickel It is also used for numerous types of batteries, as well as the elements cobalt, manganese Y copper. In electric car battery cells, current flows through charged particles (ions) of the alkali metal lithium, which currently comes from Australia, China or Chile. A number of other metals or metal compounds are used for batteries and power electronics in vehicles.

A core supplier product is semiconductor modules and microchips. silicon– either germanium-Base. They have been in short supply in many places since the Corona crisis. Here, the European industry, as with battery cells, wants to be more independent from the Asian manufacturers that previously dominated. In addition, cars without numerous plastics for the interior are unthinkable. Petroleum and natural gas mixtures are necessary for the production of plastics.

Mechanical Engineering

The product range extends from agricultural machines to forklift trucks and machines for the food industry. Therefore, the need for preliminary products and the dependence on supplier countries are very different. An important material is heist, that many companies do not buy directly from the manufacturer, but through wholesalers. Machine builders clearly feel the bottlenecks in the steel market as a result of the war in Ukraine. “Companies that need steel for an ongoing project are particularly affected. In some cases, they are not even given a price or delivery times,” reports Bianca Illner of mechanical engineering association VDMA.

Essential for many machine builders are also microchip, which are found in control elements and often come from China. According to a VDMA survey, more than three quarters of companies are putting their supply chains to the test after their experiences with the pandemic. For example, they are targeting a broader network of providers. A different geographical distribution of suppliers also plays a role in many companies.

chemical and pharmaceutical

The German chemical and pharmaceutical industry consumes large amounts gas Y Petroleum: According to the German Association of the Chemical Industry (VCI), it uses 2.8 million tons of natural gas as raw material and 99.3 terawatt hours of natural gas to generate steam and electricity. In addition, the industry needs more than 14 million tons naphtha as raw material. Therefore, there is great concern about an energy embargo against Russia. “In all companies, crisis management teams and teams are now working daily to examine the specific energy supply situation, analyze various scenarios for a reduction in natural gas supply, and make preparations,” said VCI CEO , Wolfgang Grosse Entrup. . The association highlights that energy consumption per unit of product has been halved since 1990.

According to the latest figures for 2020, the most important importing countries of chemical products were the Netherlands, Belgium and France. Russia ranks 18th with a 1.3 percent share. Non-fossil raw materials in the value chain are important for building a climate-neutral economy, such as rare earths, lithium, nickel and phosphorous. The industry depends on China (rare earths), Chile and Bolivia (lithium) and Kazakhstan (phosphorus).

electrical industry

The German electrical and digital industry is heavily involved in the international movement of goods. Last year, exports worth €225 billion were offset by imports worth €222 billion, according to industry association ZVEI. At around €80 billion, this includes primary products, most of which come from the EU (€31 billion), Asia (€24 billion) and the US (€5 billion). Preliminary outputs from Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine came to less than a billion euros, so direct losses from the war are of little consequence.

The strong dependence on semiconductors from Asian factories. The ZVEI supports financing projects to increase the production of these components in Germany and Europe. As early as November, 70 percent of companies reported in an association survey that they wanted to diversify their raw material supply chains. Additionally, 65 percent wanted to expand their storage. The situation has worsened again with the war in Ukraine: now more than 60 percent expect delivery problems of, among other things, metals, wood and chemicals to worsen again.


According to the Working Group on Energy Balances, about 71 percent of the energy requirement came from abroad in 2021. in mineral oil the import share was 98 percent natural gas 95 percent The most important household energy sources were renewable energy and charcoal brown. Coal it is no longer financed in Germany and must be 100 percent imported. “Germany is heavily dependent on Russian energy imports,” the Federal Ministry of Economics stated in early April. 35 percent of oil consumption, 50 percent of coal consumption and 55 percent of natural gas deliveries came from there in 2021.

Due to the Ukraine war, Germany now wants to become independent from the Russian energy supply. In the case of coal, this should be achieved by autumn, and in the case of oil, by the end of 2022. Economy Minister Robert Habeck expects Russian natural gas to be largely independent “by mid-2024” .


Germany obtains its raw materials for construction as sand Y gravel either natural stones as well as various industrial minerals such as rock salt either quartz sand from local deposits. “Even on a world scale, Germany remains an important mining country,” according to the Federal Ministry of Economics. Germany was in 2019 around the world raw kaolin the third largest, with rock salt the fourth largest and with potash salt the fifth largest producer.

However, for metals and many industrial minerals, Germany is highly dependent on imports. For example, iron ore for German pig iron production is exclusively imported. According to the Federal Institute of Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), the demand for iron alloys with chromium, manganese or molybdenum for the stainless steel industry is covered almost entirely by imports. However, the dependence on imports is significantly reduced through recycling and the purchase of scrap and waste.


Leave your vote

Leave a Comment

Log In

Forgot password?

Forgot password?

Enter your account data and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Your password reset link appears to be invalid or expired.

Log in

Privacy Policy

Add to Collection

No Collections

Here you'll find all collections you've created before.