German exports fall in 2013, but trade surplus widens | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 07.02.2014
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German exports fall in 2013, but trade surplus widens

Last year, the German export machine sputtered, shipping less to countries abroad than in the previous year. Full-year exports were especially hit by an unexpected drop in December, which ended four months of gains.

In December, monthly exports from Germany fell by 0.9 percent after gaining 0.7 percent in November, the German statistics office Destatis said on Friday.

The drop ended four consecutive months of rising exports, and added to a negative export tally for the full year of 2013, Destatis added.

According to the data, German exports, which are a main pillar of the country's economy, declined by 0.2 percent compared with 2012, reaching a total of 1.1 trillion euros ($1.49 trillion) last year.

In 2013, European Union states took in the biggest bulk of German goods and services with a volume of 623 billion euros. Included in this figure are exports worth 401 billion euros to the eurozone, down by 1.2 percent over the year. Demand outside of the EU was also lower as these countries imported 0.5 percent less from Germany than in 2012, reaching a total volume of 470 billion euros.

Sluggish German growth of just 0.4 percent last year also drove down imports to Europe's biggest economy. Germany took in 1.2 percent less than in 2012, meaning that the country's trade surplus further widened.

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EU to investigate German trade imbalances

According to the German statisticians, the gap between exports and imports had reached 198 billion euros, which had been the biggest ever recorded since trade records were taken. This is likely to fuel an international debate about the German trade surplus, which a number of countries have recently criticized as increasing global economic imbalances and hurting Germany's eurozone partners.

The European Commission has even launched an investigation into German exports to asses their impact on the European economy.

uhe/msh (dpa, Reuters)