German exports shrug off crisis for now: analysts

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The German trade surplus grew in August as exports shrugged off the eurozone debt crisis, at least for now, and rose for the first time in three months, official data showed on Monday.

Europe's biggest economy exported goods worth 90.5 billion euros ($122 billion) in August, 3.5 percent more than in July, the national statistics office Destatis said.

Imports, on the other hand, stagnated at 76.7 billion euros, so that the trade surplus increased to 13.8 billion euros from 10.6 billion euros in July.

Taking the eight months to August as a whole, German exports rose 14 percent over the year-earlier period to 696.8 billion euros, while imports were up 16 percent at 595.3 billion euros to give a trade surplus up 3.5 percent to 101.5 billion euros.

Exports to the European Union, which accounted for nearly 60 percent of the total figure, were up by 14 percent in the January-August period and exports to the 17-country eurozone alone were up by around 12 percent.

"Today's numbers prove yet again that Germany is faring better than the rest of the eurozone thanks to its high competitiveness," said Commerzbank economist Ulrike Rondorf.

There is "no sign of a massive slump yet. German exports are currently growing much more rapidly than global trade overall. This underlines the high competitiveness of German products," she said.

"However, Germany will not be able to decouple from a sluggish global economy on a permanent basis. The steep fall of sentiment indicators and weaker orders from abroad lead us to expect much slower export growth in the coming months," the economist cautioned.

Peter Kaidusch, eurozone economist at Natixis, agreed, saying the "very surprising" August trade figures could prove to be a one-off.

Barclays Capital economist Thorsten Polleit said foreign trade would boost gross domestic product growth by around 0.2 percentage points for the third quarter, "a little more than anticipated."

Nevertheless, even Economy Minister Philipp Roesler, who saw the trade figures as proof of the competitiveness of German goods, warned of "calmer growth of global trade in the rest of this year and next."

Notwithstanding such a slowdown, Roesler said he was "confident that exports will continue to provide positive impulses for our economy" in the future.

© 2011 AFP

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