Imports hit all-time high

Imports hit all-time high
Photo: DPA
German imports hit a record high level in November, slashing the national trade surplus as a global recovery drove up prices for oil and other commodities, official data showed on Friday.

Imports soared by an annualised 33.3 percent to €75.1 billion ($97.5 billion), while exports gained a slightly less impressive 21.7 percent to €88 billion, the national statistics office said.

“As regards imports, a higher value than in November 2010 has never been recorded since foreign trade statistics were first produced for the Federal Republic of Germany in 1950,” the Destatis office added. It referred to former West Germany, which was reunited with former East Germany in October 1990.

Destatis said German exports had reached their highest level since October 2008, just after the collapse of the US investment bank Lehman Brothers. But Germany’s trade surplus fell to €12.9 billion from €16 billion in November 2009, well below an average analyst forecast of €15 billion compiled by Dow Jones Newswires.

This week, oil prices reached two-year highs of more than $90 a barrel as global confidence increased after the US economy showed more signs of recovery.

On Wednesday, the International Energy Agency warned that rising oil prices were entering “a dangerous zone” that could imperil a fragile economic recovery in developed nations this year.

In the 11 months from January 2010 to November however, Germany posted a surplus of €141.2 billion, with its export-oriented industrial sector reaping handsome gains from the pick-up in global trade.

A breakdown of the data could help officials in Berlin deflect some of the criticism aimed at Germany by partners in the now 17-nation eurozone, namely that its strong recovery has come at their expense.

Germany is expected to post economic growth of 3.6 percent for 2010, the strongest pace since reunification, and many European Union politicians claim the result is partly the result of Germans shunning their neighbours’ goods.

Destatis figures showed however that in November, German imports from other eurozone countries increased by 29.7 percent on a 12-month basis, while exports were up by a more modest 17.9 percent.

The split with countries outside Europe was even more pronounced meanwhile, as imports leapt by 38.3 percent while exports gained 24.7 percent. But the leap in imports did not show up in German retail sales for November.

Destatis said they slipped by a provisional 1.9 percent from October, though for 2010 as a whole the statistics office forecast a gain of up to 2.7 percent.

“Retail sales data has yet to reflect the oft-announced boom in German consumption,” Commerbank analyst Ulrike Rondorf noted.


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