German exports plunge amid economic slowdown | Germany | News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 09.06.2009

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German exports plunge amid economic slowdown

New data shows that exports in Europe's largest economy fell nearly 30 percent in April as the collapse in global trade continues to hurt demand for German products.

Hundreds of containers ready for shipping in Hamburg

Germany's export-driven economy has been hammered harder than most in Europe as demand dries up around the world

German exports plunged by an historic 28.7 percent in April from the same month a year earlier, according to figures released on Tuesday by Destatis, the national statistics office in Wiesbaden.

This marks the strongest decline in six decades with the value of German exports amounting to 63.8 billion euros ($88.5 billion) -- a seasonally-adjusted 4.8 percent drop on March 2009.

German exports within the European Union suffered a 29.9 percent drop, and trade outside the 27-member bloc witnessed a similar decline of 26.5 percent.

This leaves Germany, one of the world's leading exporters, with a disappointing trade surplus of 9.4 billion euros for April. Although this was slightly higher than analysts' forecasts it still constitutes a significant drop over March's trade surplus of 11.3 billion euros. The gap becomes even wider compared to April 2008 which registered a trade surplus of 19.0 billions.

Looking at this year's January-April period, German exports amounted to 262.8 billion euros, down from 341.3 billion in the same period a year earlier, according to Destatis.

More bad news

Also on Tuesday, the Ministry for Economics and Technology released figures showing German industrial output dropping unexpectedly strongly by 1.9 percent in April. Previous estimates had envisaged a 0.1 slide.

While the data released on Tuesday did not bode well for the future of the German economy, some analysts underlined that things were not as bad as the year-on-year comparison suggested.

Several months in 2008 had been exceedingly good for German exports, and this effectively rendered the gap with the crisis year 2009 a lot larger than usual.

Germany's export-driven economy has been slammed by the global economic slowdown and the government estimates that gross domestic product (GDP) will shrink by a whopping 6.0 percent this year.

In the first quarter of 2009, the economy contracted severely by a 3.8 percent, however, analysts believed the rate of decline was beginning to slow in the second quarter.

Despite the dismal figures, Germany's economics ministry said it was optimistic for the future.

"The downward trend has slowed noticeably," the ministry said in a statement. It added: "The odds that industrial production has hit its lowest point have improved due to stabilizing demand ... and better confidence indicators."


Editor: Sonia Phalnikar

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