Hamburg News: Trade and Finance. High-class shopping area in the city centre shown.
Royaler Besuch in Hamburg: William und Kate besuchen die Hansestadt © Robert Magunia Senatskanzlei

Hamburg's long tradition of British ties

Close economic and cultural links make Hamburg most British city on European mainland

Humour typical of Hamburg and Hanseatic cautiousness have often been likened to the Englishman’s humour and British understatement. And those keen on a British lifestyle will find no shortage of Anglo-Hanseatic clothing in Ladage & Oelke on Neuer Wall where it has held shop for over 170 years. The popular horseback game of polo can be played in Hamburg’s polo club. Numerous Hanseatic pubs serve Guinness, Newcastle Brown Ale or Strongbow Cider and the Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten has a tradition of 5 o’clock teas.

British flair was even more palpable Friday (July 21, 2017) when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived in Hamburg aboard an express train from Berlin with their children George and Charlotte. The royal couple, William and Kate, had spent most of Thursday in picturesque Heidelberg. On their arrival in Hamburg, they visited the International Maritime Museum, Airbus in Finkenwerder and the city’s Elbphilharmonie in glorious sunshine and were met with a rapturous welcome by people all over Hamburg. The couple’s down to earth style has made them particularly popular.

Around 4,200 Britons call Hamburg home and they account for 2.6 per cent of the overall population. Visitors from Britain also play a key role in tourism. Since 2015, Britons have clocked up 280,000 overnight stays in Hamburg making Britain the third most important foreign market for the city. The Anglo-German Club, founded in 1948 by English occupying forces, is apolitical and hosts an annual golf tournament, a Christmas dinner and garden party in honour of Queen Elizabeth II, and offers a refined setting for making new contacts and exchanging ideas and information.

Angela Merkel and weather

“Hamburg is perhaps the city where German-British ties are strongest. To many people, Hamburg is likewise the most British city on the European mainland. That is due not only to the weather, but above all to Hamburg’s role as a port and ‘Gate to the World’,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel in May on the occasion of the 2017 Übersee Day (overseas day) in Hamburg. Around 10 per cent of exports by Hamburg-based companies are destined for Britain making it the second most important foreign trade partner. Pharmaceutical products top the list followed by aircraft. Key imports include oil, natural gas and petroleum products.

Attractive economic conditions – Brexit

Around 1,000 firms in Hamburg have economic ties to Britain including 200 companies with permanent branches or production sites there – Jungheinrich AG, Helm AG, Berenberg Bank. Conversely, around 70 British firms including BP Europa, Cunard Line, British American Tobacco and the British-Dutch Unilever are based in Hamburg. In 1926, the British American Tobacco Co (BAT) set up a branch on the banks of the Elbe. And more companies are being welcomed. “Hamburg offers British companies attractive economic framework conditions and a very high standard of living,” said Philip Koch, Director of International Projects and Partnerships at the Chamber of Commerce Hamburg.

Hamburg has stressed the traditionally friendly relations with Britain and expressed regret at the vote to leave the EU. It is important to integrate Britain in the European market as far as possible in future, the city believes. “Wherever that is not possible, companies should consider more activities on the continent. Hamburg is a gate to the EU for firms in Britain. Hamburg holds many advantages for them,” according to the Hamburg Business Development Corporation (HWF).

Long Hanseatic-British history and seafaring royals

For centuries, bilateral relations have been close and intense in cultural, economic and political terms. In 1266, Britain’s King Henry III gave merchants in the Hanseatic city the privilege of doing trade with his kingdom. A few centuries later, places on London’s stock exchange were reserved for Hamburg’s merchants. And the oldest Anglican church in continental Europe, the English Church of St. Thomas à Becket, is situated in Hamburg’s Zeughausmarkt.

The Port of Hamburg also has close ties to the Queen Mary 2 thanks to her regular and sensational arrivals in the harbour. The magnificent, royal transatlantic ocean liner measures 345 metres in length, 72 metres in height and weighs over 151,400 tons making it one of world’s largest ships.

Dog trials and Wellington boot throwing

Britons are still clinging to their traditions despite the looming Brexit and the 27th annual British Flair is going ahead as planned from August 4-6, 2017 in Hamburg. Exhibitors in Klein Flotbek will be selling all kinds of high-quality British products from wax jackets, hats and accessories, fish and chips to finest single malt whisky. The entertainment highlights include polo and cricket matches, herding dog trials, Wellington boot throwing and the annual “British Flair Open Air Proms Concert“ to be held in a picnic atmosphere on Saturday evening.

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