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Business

Business Briefs

Green Card disappoints, European aerospace group in the red; Book Fair might move from Frankfurt; Germans cut back on car purchases

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Fewer are interested in the Green Card than was thought.

Green Card Disappoints

Three years after its introduction, Germany’s Green Card program has failed to fulfil the expectations of both politicians and industry. The Hannover Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper reported that as of the end of January, 13,566 Green Card work permits had been given out to technology professionals. At the program’s onset, it had been forecast that some 20,000 permits would have been distributed in three years’ time. Still, Gerd Andres of the Economics Ministry called the program a “complete success” even though he admitted it had not reached the dimensions once hoped for. The first Green Cards were handed out in the summer of 2000 in the hopes of attracting highly skilled professionals to work in the German high-tech sector and fill a growing labor shortage. The card enables these IT professionals to live and work in Germany for five years. Most Green Card recipients thus far have come from India and Russia.

Heavy Losses for European Aerospace Group

The European aerospace group EADS reported from Munich on Monday that it posted a net loss of €299 ($325.9) million in 2002. The Franco-German-Spanish consortium, the world’s second-largest aerospace group, blamed the loss on weak demand for its Airbus airplanes as well as high asset write-downs. The loss compared to a profit of 1.37 billion euros ($1.49 billion) in 2001. The concern, which owns 80 percent of Airbus, said it expects to maintain its core profit in 2003 due to 300 civil plane deliveries. Though the net loss was slightly worse than the market had anticipated, the company's earnings before interest and tax came in at €1.4 billion ($1.52 billion), slightly better than it had signaled in February, but down from €1.69 billion euros ($1.55 billion) in 2001. EADS management said it was prepared for continued weakness in the business climate in 2003 and plans to cut an additional 1,700 jobs to help put it on an even financial keel. Last year, EADS cut 1,600 jobs in its UK, French and German operations. The goal of getting more business in the U.S. defense market could suffer due to rising diplomatic tensions over the Iraq crisis between Washington and Paris and Berlin, said co-chief executive Rainer Hertrich at a news conference in Munich.

Frankfurt Book Fair Considers Moving

The Frankfurt Book Fair is continuing negotiations with large trade fair facilities in other German cities about a possible move. Munich and Cologne are said to be under consideration, although a spokesperson for the book fair declined to reveal other cities under discussion. The head of the Frankfurt Book Fair, Volker Neumann, said the high cost of hotel rooms during the fair as well as rising prices for stands had forced the Book Fair to consider moving to a different city. An attempt to establish a price structure with officials at the Frankfurt trade fair and surrounding hotels by March 1 failed. The Frankfurt Book Fair is the world’s largest trading place for rights and licenses with 6,400 exhibitors from more than 110 countries and 171,000 trade visitors from 106 countries.

Successful German Wine Harvest in 2002

In 2002, 10.18 million hectoliters of wine must (juice pressed from grapes before fermentation) were harvested in Germany, according to the country’s Federal Statistics Office. The 2002 harvest was 2.8 percent higher than the average of the previous six years (9.9 million hectoliters). Last year’s harvest was also marked by higher quality standards. Out of the harvest totals, 56 percent was deemed suitable for the production of wines considered “high quality” according to German wine regulations. Compared to 2001, German vintners pressed 800,000 hectoliters more of wine must designated as “high quality.”

White wine must made up 65 percent of the harvest, while 35 percent of the juice pressed became red wine. However, the increasing demand for red wine was reflected in the harvest. Red wine must amounts increased 38 percent over the period from 1996 to 2001.

Germans Plan to Cut Back on Car Purchases

Germans plan to save when it comes to buying a car, according to a survey of 1,300 car drivers carried out by the vehicle appraisal firm Dekra. 68 percent of those asked said they would use their current vehicles longer, instead of buying new ones. In eastern Germany 73 percent were of this opinion, while in western Germany the number was slightly lower -- 66 percent. More than half of those surveyed said they would reduce the amount they drive in the coming year. More than a third (34 percent) said their new cars would have fewer extras. Used cars are also gaining in popularity according to the survey; 14 percent said they would buy a used car next time.