Germany’s foreign trade weakens after strong start to 2023

German exports in March were down 5.2 per cent on the previous month, while imports even declined by 6.4 per cent, according to provisional figures published by the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis).

“The declining figures are related to the strong start to the year,” Dirk Jandura, president of the Federation of German Wholesale, Foreign Trade and Services (BGA), said on Thursday.

“The negative import figures are the late effects of the strong dollar in the autumn and the resulting subdued orders.”

The US remained the biggest export market for Europe’s largest economy, reports Xinhua news agency.

However, German exports to the US in March dropped by 10.9 per cent to a value of 12.5 billion euros ($13.8 billion), according to Destatis.

There were “highly negative trends” observable in the US, Jandura said.

German imports from China, the country’s most important import partner, stood at 12.6 billion euros in March, a decline of 7.2 per cent month-on-month, according to the provisional figures.

Despite the downturn, German exports closed the first quarter with a plus.

Between January and March, goods with a total value of 398.2 billion euros were shipped abroad, a year-on-year increase of 7.4 per cent.

In response to the export figures as well as “restrained expectations” of internationally active German companies, the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) downgraded its forecast for the current year, expecting exports to grow by only 1 per cent in 2023.

“The weakening global economy is noticeably gnawing away at German exports,” DIHK head of foreign trade Volker Treier warned.

“Geopolitical risks, recurring turbulence on the financial markets, continuing high inflation rates and the loss of purchasing power, as well as increased interest rates, are causing great uncertainty in the foreign business of German companies.”

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