Early October seems to be the time of year for celebrating epoch-making events. Just two days after all those dazzling National Day festivities that marked the 59th anniversary of the birth of the mainland, Germans the world over are today celebrating the 19th anniversary of the reunification of their nation. And Germans in Hong Kong are no exception. Frank Burbach, Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Hong Kong, stressed that the reunification was more than just a German phenomenon. 'In 1989, after 40 years of separation, it was the people of Germany themselves who, by a peaceful revolution, brought about unification and contributed to the end of the cold war. This success would not have been possible without the support of our partners and friends in the European Union and worldwide,' Mr Burbach explained. 'Not only did the event change German history, it changed the course of world history.' Developments in the divided Germany of 1989 did have a domino effect across Eastern Europe, and the consequences of Germany's reunification are still rippling across Europe and Asia. Germany has consolidated on the remarkable events of that euphoric year to build a prosperous society. It is Europe's largest national economy and the world's third-largest economy by nominal GDP, followed by China. Germany has also become more active on the global arena in other areas. As Mr Burbach said: 'Germany is aware of its role as one of the driving forces of the EU and is taking more responsibilities in international politics as an outspoken advocate for peace, justice, human rights, freedom, democracy and environmental protection.' German ties with Hong Kong are dominated by trade, as one might expect of relations between the two industrious societies. And it is a most encouraging picture. Germany, Hong Kong's largest EU trade partner, is seeing the graph rise again. According to the Hong Kong government, Germany's total trade volume with Hong Kong last year amounted to HK$129 billion, a 7.6 per cent increase over 2006. Imports from Germany amounted to HK$48 billion, while exports amounted to HK$3 billion, and the balance was made up of re-exports, mainly goods from the mainland exported to Germany from Hong Kong. Hong Kong imports from Germany include electrical and other machinery, cars, telecommunications equipment and precision instruments. And Germany's imports from Hong Kong include apparel and clothing accessories, office machines and automatic data processing machines. Trade relations are as solid as ever and Mr Burbach said: 'Around 550 German business companies are located in Hong Kong, mainly engaged in trade, transport and logistics, consulting and financial services. 'Economic relations have progressed at breathtaking speed into the success story they are today.' This synergy is not so surprising, for Germany has had an active presence here for more than 150 years. According to Mr Burbach, some 3,000 Germans have made Hong Kong their home. In recent years, an increasing number of delegations have exchanged visits between Germany and Hong Kong, mainly in the fields of new technologies and environmental protection. Cultural ties are also robust. Many first-class German cultural events are presented at the Hong Kong Arts Festival each year, and Germany's language and culture outpost here, the Goethe-Institut, continues to earn high marks. One of highlights of the Goethe-Institut's year is scheduled for this month, with the German film festival KINO/08, starting on October 24. Presented by Goethe-Institut Hong Kong and co-curated by the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society, KINO/08 will be showcasing recent German big-screen gems, including the cutting-edge productions: Absurdistan, Rabbits Without Eyes and Reclaim Your Brain. All the shows will have Chinese subtitles. Programme information is available at www.goethe.de/ins/cn/hon for the many Hong Kong fans of the dark, atmospheric and provocative brand of film-making that Germany excels in. For their part, Germans take a great interest in the life and the culture of the city and, according to Mr Burbach, documentaries and features on Hong Kong crop up with disproportionate frequency in the German media. 'Germans find this vibrant metropolis fascinating,' Mr Burbach explained. Hong Kong Tourism Board figures bear this out - last year 234,763 German tourists visited Hong Kong, up 9.8 per cent on 2006. Tonight, visiting and resident Germans alike will be celebrating German Unity all over a city that is evidently close to German hearts. 'The importance of the German-Hong Kong relationship is underlined by the visit of Michael Glos, Federal Minister for Economics and Technology,' Mr Burbach said. 'The business of Hong Kong is business, and that is a language we Germans share with a city whose reputation rests on efficiency, innovation, teamwork and high productivity.' Within Germany, the big story has been a shock defeat for the ruling party's allies in Bavaria. Mr Burbach, speaking before Tuesday's results, said the outcome could reshape party politics in a fundamental way, while experts said the ramifications would extend well beyond the Alpine state's borders. The Christian Social Union, the sister party to the country's ruling Christian Democratic Union, had held Bavaria since 1962. The result could have an impact on Chancellor Angela Merkel's chances of retaining power in next year's federal elections. For many living in the Mitteleuropa region, it was a political drama every bit as engaging as the United States presidential contest.