German export machine defies crisis, picks up speed in March | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 09.05.2012
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German export machine defies crisis, picks up speed in March

Although recession has engulfed their main markets in Europe, German firms in March exported more than ever before in a single month. With imports similarly at a record high, Europe's biggest economy helps others, too.

In March, German companies sold goods worth 98.9 billion euros ($128.5 billion) abroad - the highest volume of exports since first records were taken in 1950, the German Federal Statistics Office, Destatis, said Wednesday.

The previous German export record had been set in March 2011, Destatis added, which had now been surpassed by 0.7 percent.

Compared with inflation and seasonally adjusted February figures, exports rose by 0.9 percent, supporting analysts' assumptions that Germany might avoid a technical recession, which is two consecutive quarters of contraction.

"Coupled with encouraging factory output figures, exports indicate that the first quarter appears to come to a good end, with Germany apparently avoiding a technical recession," Andreas Schürle, an analyst with DEKABank, told Reuters news agency.

On Tuesday, official data showed that German industrial production in March increased 2.8 percent from February driven mainly by a strong construction sector.

Global recovery

On a 12-month basis, exports to countries outside the European Union grew by 6.1 percent to 41.9 billion euros, while exports to eurozone countries contracted by 3.6 percent to 38.1 billion euros.

Ulrike Rondorf, analyst with Commerzbank, told Reuters that the German economy apparently was benefiting from global economic expansion, notably rising demand in the United States and Asia.

"German companies have grown very competitive, enabling them to profit more than others from a global recovery," she added.

In addition to rising exports, imports into Germany hit an all-time monthly high in March, too, Destatis figures showed.

Goods and services worth 81.5 billion euros were sold to Germany in March - a rise by 2.6 percent compared with March 2011.

Notably imports from the 17-nation eurozone were booming, Destatis said, increasing 2.3 percent year-on-year, thus supporting views that Germany was increasingly driving economic recovery in the crisis-stricken currency area.

"It's hardly surprising that imports grow faster than exports, because companies in debt-stricken eurozone countries are trying to offset weak domestic demand with rising exports," Christian Schulz from Berenberg Bank told Reuters.

uhe/nk (dpa, AFP, Reuters)