German Exports Fall Sharply On Weak Global Demand

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Germany's exports declined sharply in December, taking the trade surplus down as the global demand remained weak amid inflation concerns and recession worries.

Exports registered a monthly decline of 6.3 percent in December, reversing a 0.1 percent rise a month ago, Destatis reported Thursday. Shipments were forecast to fall moderately by 3.3 percent.

At the same time, the decline in imports deepened to 6.1 percent from 3.2 percent. Economists had expected a 0.8 percent drop for December.

As a result, the trade surplus fell to an adjusted EUR 10.0 billion in December from EUR 10.9 billion in November. Nonetheless, this was bigger than economists' forecast of EUR 9.2 billion.

On a yearly basis, exports expanded only 5.9 percent, following November's 14.0 percent increase. Similarly, growth in imports slowed to 3.2 percent from 15.5 percent a month ago.

In 2022, shipments advanced 14.1 percent and imports by 24.1 percent compared with 2021. Consequently, the foreign trade surplus declined to EUR 79.7 billion, the lowest surplus since 2000, from EUR 175.3 billion in 2021.

In December, exports to the EU countries slid 4.0 percent month-on-month, and imports from those countries shrunk 4.8 percent. Shipments to the euro area dropped 3.2 percent and imports from the currency bloc decreased 4.9 percent.

Most German exports went to the United States in December, but shipments decreased 10.0 percent. Likewise, imports from the US fell 7.3 percent.

Exports to China also decreased in December, down 14.2 percent from the previous month. Most imports came from China, although this was down 14.0 percent.

Early this week, the International Monetary Fund projected world trade growth to decline to 2.4 percent in 2023, despite an easing of supply bottlenecks, before rising to 3.4 percent in 2024.

The lender forecast the largest euro area economy to grow marginally by 0.1 percent this year and 1.4 percent next year.

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