Germany’s exports managed to grow in December, despite restrictions imposed to contain the coronavirus pandemic, underpinned by demand from China and the U.S., data from Destatis revealed on Tuesday.
Exports gained 0.1 percent on month, slower than the 2.3 percent increase in November. Economists had forecast a monthly fall of 1 percent.
At the same time, imports decreased 0.1 percent, following a 5.4 percent rebound logged a month ago. Imports were expected to decline more sharply by 1.1 percent.
As a result, the trade surplus remained almost unchanged at a seasonally adjusted EUR 16 billion in December. The expected level was EUR 15.9 billion.
Year-on-year, exports advanced 2.7 percent, reversing a 1.2 percent drop in the previous month. At the same time, the annual growth in imports accelerated to 3.5 percent from 0.5 percent.
On an unadjusted basis, the trade surplus totaled EUR 14.8 billion versus EUR 15.1 billion in the same period last year.
The current account surplus increased to EUR 28.2 billion from EUR 25.3 billion in the prior year.
Carsten Brzeski, an ING economist said the revival of the traditional German growth driver, exports, came at the right moment and helped in avoiding a contraction of the economy in the final quarter of 2020.
The longer-term outlook, however, remains mixed, illustrating that the sector will still take some time before returning to full strength, the economist added.
Data showed that exports to China advanced 11.6 percent and that to the United States climbed 8.4 percent in December. This was the first annual increase in German exports to the U.S. since February 2020.
Imports from China grew 15.7 percent and that from the U.S. gained 2.2 percent in December.
In 2020 as a whole, German exports decreased 9.3 percent and imports were down 7.1 percent. These were the largest annual decreases in both exports and imports since the financial and economic crisis in 2009.
The foreign trade balance showed a surplus of EUR 179.1 billion in 2020. This means that the German export surplus declined for the fourth year in a row, Destatis said.
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