German exports rose surprisingly at the start of the second quarter. In April they climbed by 1.2 percent compared to the previous month to 130.4 billion euros, as the Federal Statistical Office announced on Monday. In March there was still a minus of 6.0 percent. Economists surveyed by the Reuters news agency, on the other hand, had expected a decline of 2.5 percent for April. Imports fell by 1.7 percent to 112 billion euros, almost twice as much as expected.
“The growth is far from enough to make up for the sharp decline in the previous month,” said chief economist Alexander Krüger from Hauck Aufhäuser Lampe Privatbank. The prospects are mixed. “Foreseeably decreasing impulses from China and the USA do not exactly brighten up the export outlook.”
Exports to the EU countries rose in April by 4.5 percent on the previous month to 71.4 billion euros. The USA remained the number one buyer country: Goods worth 13.1 billion euros were sold there, an increase of 4.7 percent. Exports to China grew 10.1 percent to 8.5 billion euros, while those to the UK fell 5.2 percent to 6.1 billion euros.
When it comes to imports, China remains ahead
The German economy slipped into a recession due to falling consumer spending by inflation-plagued consumers. Gross domestic product (GDP) fell in late 2022 and early 2023 – two quarters in a row. Experts speak of a technical recession. “Because of the fall in imports, the trade surplus remains positive,” said Krüger, referring to exports and GDP. “That dampens fears of a crash in economic growth.”
When it comes to imports, China is the most important trading partner. Goods worth 12.9 billion euros were imported from there. Imports from the US amounted to 8.0 billion. Only goods worth 2.8 billion euros came from Great Britain. The volume of trade with Russia continued to decline, with exports and imports together only amounting to around one billion euros.
There have been strong fluctuations in foreign trade in recent months. “The zigzag course continues,” explained ING analyst Carsten Bzreski. “German exports have been extremely unstable since last summer. However, the general trend is not pointing upwards, but downwards.”