A report released by the US Department of Commerce paints a rosy picture of optics in Germany. Optical sales, for example, were valued at close to €37.5 billion in 2004. Approximately 16 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Germany are directly or indirectly related to optical technologies. According to VDI, the Association of German Engineers, optical technologies will replace roughly 30 percent of electronic technology in the next few years. The report cites a study by Optec Consulting of Switzerland that predicts that the global market for laser processing systems will grow by 13 percent a year for the next five years.Sales within Germany have remained stable, and exports increased by 14 percent from 2003 to 2004 to a value of €21 billion. More than half of the optics made in Germany are exported, with the bulk sent to the US and Canada.German imports of photonics and precision technology goods from the US rose by more than 4 percent from 2003 to 2004. Germany imports 36 percent of such goods from the European Union, 28 percent from Asia and 20 percent from the US. Driving forces behind Germany’s successful optics industry are research and development spending, which accounts for 9 percent of sales, and the country’s network of universities, private industry initiatives, and public and private research laboratories, according to the report.German optics end up in a variety of products and are used in information and communication technology, in automotive and defense applications and in computer chip production.Technical innovation in nanotechnologies will contribute to future market growth, the report concludes.