News magazine Der Spiegel cited a new poll for the German Chambers of
Commerce and Industry (DIHK) among 3,200 firms forecasting a four-percent rise
in exports in 2012.
The figure was down slightly from the average over the last 10 years of nearly six-percent growth in exports, traditionally the backbone of Europe's top economy, Der Spiegel said.
"Companies' expectations for business abroad are cautiously optimistic," the study said, as quoted by the magazine.
Several firms said they expected the market to improve in the course of the year despite the looming eurozone debt crisis, with the best prospects in the so-called BRIC countries: Brazil, Russia, India and China.
They also cited signs of improvement in the United States as it struggles to return to robust growth. German firms were pessimistic, however, about demand from crisis-hit European countries.
The report said the DIHK found that German companies with production facilities at home and abroad were hiring more staff in Germany than at their foreign sites.
"That means foreign investment is a significant boost to Germany as a place to do business," Der Spiegel quoted the study as saying.
Earlier this month, official data showed that the German trade surplus grew in November as foreign demand for German-made products remained surprisingly robust.
Germany exported goods worth €90.7 billion ($119.9 billion) in seasonally-adjusted terms in November, 2.5 percent more than in October, the national statistics office Destatis said.
Chancellor Angela Merkel will embark Wednesday on a two-day visit to China, the world's top exporter, for talks with Premier Wen Jiabao and President Hu Jintao.