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German exporters experience record growth in China; weakened demand leads Internet World to cancel its annual trade fair in Berlin and Airbus says its plane deliveries have dipped.

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China is the fastest-growing market for German exporters.

Chinese market for Germany growing

China is by far the fastest-growing market for German exporters, the German Federal Statistics Office has reported. In February German exports to China increased by 33.1 percent, to €1.3 billion ($1.5 billion), over the previous month's volume. Meanwhile, Spain is the strongest growing market for German exports in the European Union, with exports up 16.6 percent in February to a total volume of €2.7 billion. German exports within the European Union increased by 5.4 percent, to €30.2 billion.

Despite growth, Henkel sales target in jeopardy

Henkel, the German consumer products group, reported an operating profit of €168 million in the first quarter of 2003. Although the earnings reflect an increase over last year's first quarter profit of €162 million, analysts had expected slightly higher returns. The Düsseldorf firm, which markets such products as the washing powder Persil, said it would stick to its aim of increasing this year's operating profit to the "high single-digit range." At the same time, Henkel complained that the strong euro could lead to a 4 percent shortfall from its stated goal. Adjusted for foreign exchange effects, the group recorded sales of €2.3 billion in the first three months of the year, an increase of 2.8 percent.

Internet World cancelled

The biggest German Internet trade fair, Internet World, has been cancelled a month and a half before it was due to open in Berlin. The convention will be combined with the Munich "Systems" trade fair in October, Internet World's organizer said. Last year, 550 exhibitors took part, while only half as many were expected this year, a spokeswoman for the organizer, Penton Media, explained.

Discount airlines put pressure on German Rail

Germany's national railway, Deutsche Bahn, has fallen significantly behind its target sales in the first quarter of 2003. Europe's largest transportation company recorded profits nearly 20 percent below its target for the period. Instead of the projected €930 million, sales only reached €750 million, Reuters reported -- 14 percent lower than during the same period last year. Passenger numbers also fell. Around 27 million people traveled with Deutsche Bahn, four million less than expected and 10 percent less than in the first quarter of 2002. Industry analysts have suggested that the poor showing is a result of the weak economy and the tough competition offered by discount airlines.

Profits down at Airbus

The sluggish aviation industry has made business difficult for the European Aeronautics Defense and Space (EADS) company. EADS reported that the decline in Airbus orders -- the firm's biggest business division -- and higher research and development costs had resulted in a net loss of €93 million after goodwill writeoffs and one-time charges as opposed to a net loss of €25 million during last year's first quarter. Operating profits were up 60 percent to €130 million, while turnover dipped to €5.5 billion (€6.4 billion last year). Still, EADS joint chief executives Philippe Camus and Rainer Hertrich said the firm would abide by its forecasts, stressing the seasonality of the aerospace industry.

Compiled with material from wire services.

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