‘Trade has collapsed’: Germany sees business with UK slump after Brexit

'Trade has collapsed': Germany sees business with UK slump after Brexit
Southampton harbour. Photo:Andrew Matthews/DPA
Germany's exports ticked up in January on robust trade with China, but trade with another key trade partner, Great Britain, plummeted after the Britain left the EU.

The Brexit fallout has continued to hurt commerce with the United Kingdom, with federal statistics office Destatis recording a 29 percent plunge in German exports across the Channel.

Meanwhile, demand for UK goods in Germany collapsed by more than 56 percent, official data showed Tuesday.

Cross-Channel exporters have had to adapt to new customs requirements from January 1, following Britain’s 2016 decision to leave the European Union.

Firms on both sides have since complained of increased bureaucracy and shipment delays as they grapple with the new rules.

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“Foreign trade with Britain has collapsed,” said LBBW bank economist Jens-Oliver Niklasch.

Overall, German exports rose 1.4 percent month-on-month in seasonally adjusted figures, Destatis said.

But imports sank as coronavirus shutdowns sapped consumer demand in Europe’s top economy.

Imports slumped 4.7 percent, widening Germany’s closely-watched trade surplus to 22.2 billion euros.

Compared with a year ago, before the pandemic ravaged the global economy, exports fell 8.0 percent in January and imports almost 10 percent.

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“Consumer demand fell sharply in January due to a lack of opportunities” as the government kept non-essential shops, leisure and cultural centres closed to rein in the coronavirus,  Niklasch.

But demand for “made in Germany” goods was powered by vital trade partner China, which has recovered faster from the virus shock.

Exports to European Union countries plunged six percent year-on-year, while demand for EU goods within Germany was down by almost the same.

Combined with Germany’s struggles to bring down Covid-19 infections despite months of shutdowns, “the January reading is not an indication of renewed German export strength, but rather an alarm bell for the first quarter.”


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  1. I live in France and my interest in Germany stems from having learnt the language in 1950s school holidays with a lovely family in Rottach-Egern on the Tegernsee in Bavaria. This experience created an impression in me of German working habits which, in the UK, used to be defined thus: ” with working hours (say) from 08.00 to 17.00 the normal Brit worker entered the building on time and was at his/her desk or bench ready to work hard from 08.15, taking 75 minutes for lunch out of the allocated hour, leaving his/her desk or bench at 16.45 to leave the building right on time at 17.00. Our German worker – you’ve guessed it no doubt – was actually working at his/her desk or bench at 08.00 , taking 45 minutes for lunch, leaving the premises having completed his/her work as soon as possible after 17.00″. Does any of this still apply and If so, has it any relevance to the German “problem” of its noteworthy trade surplus?

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