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German trade surplus widens

February 9, 2015

Despite international crises, sanctions against Russia and sluggish global growth, Germany exported more than ever before last year. Imports rose less rapidly, so the trade surplus also jumped to a record high.

A container at a port in Hamburg
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Germany exported a record 1.13 trillion euros ($1.28 trillion) worth of goods and services last year - 3.7 percent more than in 2013, according to figures released Monday by the country's statistics office, Destatis.

Imports increased by 2 percent to 915.6 billion euros, and a German economic think tank, the Ifo Institute, calculated that the resulting trade surplus in 2014 of about 217 billion euros was the highest of all countries in the world, with China and Saudi Arabia coming in at a distant second and third.

Germany's export strength is frequently criticized by trade experts who claim it throws global trade off balance and denies other countries the opportunity to grow.

Crises dampen mood

Economists said exports from Europe's largest economy would have been even larger had international crises not put a damper on shipments abroad.

Alongside conflicts in the Middle East and the Ebola outbreak in western Africa, the war in Ukraine, coupled with sanctions against Russia, hurt German exports. As a result, trade with Russia slumped by about a fifth over the year in 2014, Destatis figures showed.

Last year, demand for German goods picked up most significantly in European Union countries outside of the debt-laden eurozone, such as in Poland and the UK.

However, countries within the euro currency area also took in more, with exports increasing there by 2.7 percent. So-called third-country exports, including those to China and the United States, grew by 1.5 percent.

German exporters said they expected trade to accelerate in 2015 due to rising global demand. German trader lobby group BGA said exports could pick up by almost 4 percent this year, for a total estimated volume of about 1.172 trillion euros.

uhe/cjc (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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