German December exports, imports rise unexpectedly strongly
BERLIN—German imports and exports both rose unexpectedly strongly in December, providing a positive note about the strength of Europe’s largest economy amid growing worries, official data showed Friday.
Exports rose 1.5 per cent from November, to 112.3 billion euros ($127.3 billion), while imports rose 1.2 per cent to 92.9 billion euros, adjusted for seasonal and calendar factors, the Federal Statistical Office said. That widened Germany’s trade surplus to 19.4 billion euros from November’s 18.9 billion euros.
Economists had predicted a 0.4 per cent rise in exports and a 0.5 per cent rise in imports.
For the full year, German exports rose 3 per cent from 2017 to 1.32 trillion euros and imports rose 5.7 per cent to 1.09 trillion euros.
The year-on-year gain in exports was led by a 4.5 per cent rise in demand from other countries in the 19-nation eurozone. Exports to countries outside the European Union were up 1.9 per cent.
The gain in imports was more greater, with those from the eurozone rising 6.9 per cent and those from outside the EU climbing 5 per cent.
ING economist Carsten Brzeski called the figures a “welcome sign of life.” They followed disappointing data this week on factory orders and industrial production in December.
Economic growth has been held back in recent months by automakers’ troubles getting vehicles certified under new, tougher emissions tests. At the same time, new import taxes imposed by the U.S. and China are weighing on prospects for global trade—hurting the outlook for major exporter Germany.
Last week, the government slashed its 2019 economic growth forecast from 1.8 per cent to 1 per cent. Germany’s economy grew 1.5 per cent last year and 2.2 per cent in 2017.