Report confirms China overtakes German exports

Report confirms China overtakes German exports
Containers in China. Photo: DPA
Official numbers from the Germany’s Federal Statistics Office (Destatis) on Friday have confirmed that China has surpassed Germany as the world's leading exporter.

In the 11 months from January to November, Chinese exports were worth a total of $1.07 trillion, while the German data showed that exports from Europe’s biggest economy amounted to €734.6 billion, or $1.05 trillion.

In November, the German trade surplus nonetheless climbed to €17.2 billion, according to seasonally corrected figures from the Destatis service, from €13.6 billion in October amid a pickup in global trade.

“The German product specialisation with a high share of capital goods and high presence in Asian markets, make Germany one of the main beneficiaries of an investment-led global recovery,” ING senior economist Carsten Brzeski said.

He noted that German exports to China had increased by almost 12 percent from November 2008, and that the unadjusted German trade surplus of €17.4 billion was the country’s biggest since June 2008.

Germany is slowly recovering from its worst recession since World War II, after its economy contracted by around five percent in 2009.

Analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires had expected a much smaller November trade surplus of around €11 billion, and the figures will be welcomed following the release of disappointing retail sales data on Thursday.

On the balance of payments current account, a broad measure of trade that indicates a country’s ability to pay its way in the world, Germany posted a surplus of €18.1 billion, up from €11.1 billion in October.

That was also well above analysts’ forecasts for a surplus of €10 billion.

The indicator is important for the long-term confidence of investors and trading partners, but could reinforce critics who say Germans should consume more to contribute to a more balanced global economy.

Brzeski said however that exports would continue to lead the German recovery this year and added: “After yesterday’s disappointing retail sales numbers, it is good to know that the German economy can at least rely on a good old friend: its strong export sector.”

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