Kolbus, founded in 1775, is a German company from North Rhine-Westphalia which specialises in book binding and paper processing machines. As manufacturers of a highly specialised niche product the company is susceptible to adverse affects of economic volatility. When the threat of the global financial crisis hit in 2008, Kolbus' export activities – which currently constitute 80 per cent of its total business – averted any potential loss of jobs within the company.
The strength of the company's exports rests on the 2011 trade agreement between the EU and South Korea. Since the ratification of the ageeement Kolbus has doubled its export output to South Korea.
A decisive factor in Kolbus' success in South Korea is that customs duties have fallen from 8% to nill under the agreement. Kolbus CEO, Kai Büntemeyer, explains that "this leads to an enormous psychological advantage with the customer. And the potential savings of at least €25 000 per machine are, of course, also not exactly neglegible."
Among the goods that played an important role in German exports to South Korea in 2015, machinery came second at a total value of around €3.14bn (only after vehicles at a value of over €6bn).