Economic woes in the eurozone caused Germany to fall behind the US in the 2011 export ranking, with China still being the world's biggest exporter. But Germany is expected to make a strong comeback this year.
In spite of hitting a new record, German exports were only the world's third biggest in 2011 with an overall volume of $1.477 trillion (1.122 trillion euros), the "Financial Times Germany" newspaper wrote Tuesday.
The newspaper quoted from an estimate published by the Munich-based ifo Institute which said that United States exports "edged past those of Germany in the final quarter of 2011" reaching $1.480 trillion.
This was primarily "due to a cooling in most European Union economies," ifo said, as the 27-nation bloc was Germany's biggest market, taking in some 60 percent of exports.
China remained export champions in 2011 - accounting for 11 percent of worldwide exports – to be followed by the US with 8.4 percent and Germany with 8.3 percent.
Germany was unseated as the world's biggest exporter by China in 2009 and was overtaken by the US in 2010, according to ifo.
However, Germany was in for a "strong comeback in 2012" as business indicators "brightened" at the beginning of the year on the back of a "general improvement" in the global economy, the German Economics Ministry said Tuesday.
According to figures released by the German statistics office, January exports jumped by 9.3 percent compared with the same month last year, bringing the total volume to 85.9 billion euros for the month.
The data showed strong demand from nations outside the European Union, with year-on-year exports to those countries rising by 15.4 percent.
But even exports to the EU posted a 4.4 percent rise in January.
As a result, Germany's trade balance surplus widened to 13.1 billion euros from 12.9 billion in December.
uhe/nk (dpa, AFP)