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Germany: ‘We can beat US in export rankings’

German business chiefs believe their country could overtake the USA this year to become the world’s second biggest exporter.

Germany: 'We can beat US in export rankings'
Photo: DPA

Europe’s biggest economy is currently the world’s third largest exporter after China and the US.

But the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) said in a statement on Thursday that the country could leap into second place, as the value of German exports measured in US dollars would increase with the strengthening of the European economy.

DIHK foreign trade head Volker Treier said: “The drought for Germany’s exporters is over. German exports will increase this year achieving growth of two percent.” He was also hopeful for export growth of four percent in 2014.

Treier added that Germany had the impetus to push the US into third place this year as trade is calculated in US dollars and a strong euro meant the value of Germany’s exports would increase when converted into US dollars.

But despite the growth in exports the DIHK said Germany’s share of world trade was likely to slip by 0.5 percent to seven percent this year.

The growth in German exports is not enough to match the growth in world trade and is slightly behind forecasts of a six percent increase in German exports for 2014, it said.

Data released on Wednesday showed that the German economy had helped drag the Eurozone out of its lengthy recession, growing by 0.7 percent.

The Local/tsb

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ECONOMY

German consumer prices set to rise steeply amid war in Ukraine

Russia's war in Ukraine is slowing down the economy and accelerating inflation in Germany, the Ifo Institute has claimed.

German consumer prices set to rise steeply amid war in Ukraine

According to the Munich-based economics institute, inflation is expected to rise from 5.1 to 6.1 percent in March. This would be the steepest rise in consumer prices since 1982.

Over the past few months, consumers in Germany have already had to battle with huge hikes in energy costs, fuel prices and increases in the price of other everyday commodities.

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With Russia and Ukraine representing major suppliers of wheat and grain, further price rises in the food market are also expected, putting an additional strain on tight incomes. 

At the same time, the ongoing conflict is set to put a dampener on the country’s annual growth forecasts. 

“We only expect growth of between 2.2 and 3.1 percent this year,” Ifo’s head of economic research Timo Wollmershäuser said on Wednesday. 

Due to the increase in the cost of living, consumers in Germany could lose around €6 billion in purchasing power by the end of March alone.

With public life in Germany returning to normal and manufacturers’ order books filling up, a significant rebound in the economy was expected this year. 

But the war “is dampening the economy through significantly higher commodity prices, sanctions, increasing supply bottlenecks for raw materials and intermediate products as well as increased economic uncertainty”, Wollmershäuser said.

Because of the current uncertainly, the Ifo Institute calculated two separate forecasts for the upcoming year.

In the optimistic scenario, the price of oil falls gradually from the current €101 per barrel to €82 by the end of the year, and the price of natural gas falls in parallel.

In the pessimistic scenario, the oil price rises to €140 per barrel by May and only then falls to €122 by the end of the year.

Energy costs have a particularly strong impact on private consumer spending.

They could rise between 3.7 and 5 percent, depending on the developments in Ukraine, sanctions on Russia and the German government’s ability to source its energy. 

On Wednesday, German media reported that the government was in the process of thrashing out an additional set of measures designed to support consumers with their rising energy costs.

The hotly debated measures are expected to be finalised on Wednesday evening and could include increased subsidies, a mobility allowance, a fuel rebate and a child bonus for families. 

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s proposals for future energy price relief

In one piece of positive news, the number of unemployed people in Germany should fall to below 2.3 million, according to the Ifo Institute.

However, short-time work, known as Kurzarbeit in German, is likely to increase significantly in the pessimistic scenario.

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