After hitting record levels at the end of last year, German exports dropped in January amid weaker demand from the eurozone. Imports declined less significantly, causing the country's trade surplus to narrow.
Germany's statistics office, Destatis, reported Monday that the country's exports declined by 2.1 percent in January, amounting to a total of 96.3 billion euros ($104 billion) compared with 98.4 billion euros in December 2015.
Imports slipped by just 0.3 percent to 76.6 billion euros, Destatis said, meaning Germany's trade surplus declined to 19.7 billion euros in January from 21 billion euros in December.
Year-on-year, Germany's shipments of goods and services declined by 0.6 percent in January, according to Destatis data.
Germany's statisticians said the drop compared to the same month last year came as countries in the European Union took in 0.7 percent fewer exports from Germany in January. Shipments to countries outside the bloc also diminished, coming in 0.5 percent lower than in January 2014.
The slide in German trade in January was the steepest for a month since August 2014, and more significant than analysts had predicted. Nevertheless, most of the experts don't see a need for concern.
"Export businesses are just taking a break, which is not a sign of weakening growth," ING analysts Carsten Brzeski told the news agency Reuters, adding that it was only a "matter of time" until the weak euro would lead to a rebound in exports.
And BayernLB expert Stefan Kipar told the same news agency that the January drop was a "short-term fluctuation" that would be offset by an expected acceleration of global demand this year.
uhe/nz (AFP, Reuters, dpa)