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Germany has long enjoyed a lucrative trading relationship with China. The enduring success of the European country’s export-driven economy owes much to the fast-developing Asian powerhouse, which displays a seemingly insatiable appetite for Germany’s industrial and technical products. More than 11 percent of all machinery produced in Germany’s core industrial sector goes to China—now the world’s second-richest country after the United States. China is also a key export market for Germany’s luxury carmakers, such as BMW AG and Volkswagen AG’s Audi division—key clients of U.K.–based Norton Rose and Germany’s Noerr, among others. And despite the recession, the volume of business is still growing. During Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to China last September, the two countries signed a new Sino-German economic and cooperation agreement. As part of the deal, Volkswagen recently announced plans to open a parts factory in the northern coastal city of Tianjin.

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