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Germany is world export champion for 3rd year

Published on February 08, 2006

8 February 2006

BERLIN – Germany has defended its position as the world’s export champion for the third year in a row in 2005, data released Wednesday showed.

“Made in Germany” exports from Europe’s biggest economy grew by 7.5 per cent to a record 786.1 billion euros (940 billion dollars) last year, the Wiesbaden-based statistics office said.

“That is enough for the world champion title,” said Dirk Mohr from the statistics office with foreign sales powered ahead by solid global growth in particular in the fast-moving economies of Asia, the Middle East as well as Central and Eastern Europe.

With its total value of exports coming in at 772 billion euros, the US, which is the world’s biggest economy, came in second place in the export championship league.

In particular, German exports have been underpinned by strong demand from oil producing nations in the Middle East, which have invested strongly in engineering equipment from Germany.

Indeed, while exports to Germany’s partners in the European Union rose by 6.9 per cent last year compared to 2004, exports to non-EU bounded ahead by 8.4 per cent with the booming economies of China and India also seeking out foreign sales from Europe’s biggest economy.

As a result, Germany’s export machine has emerged as a key pillar of the nation’s growth rate helping to a offset stagnating domestic economy and underpin an expansion rate in the country last year of about one per cent.

Also helping to shore up German exports has been the euro’s moderate performance in recent months. After hitting a record high of 1.36 dollars against the dollar at the end of 2004, the euro entered the new year trading around a more modest 1.20 dollars.

Germany’s economic institutes and industry associations are expecting exports to climb again this year by a minimum of six per cent with business sentiment surveys showing companies projecting strong growth in foreign orders in the coming months.

Wednesday’s data also showed the nation’s trade surplus widening to 160 billion euros last year. This compares to the 156.1 billion euros recorded for 2004, the statistics office said.

Imports grew at 8.7 per cent over the same period, helped along by the increase in energy prices but also raising hopes of a pickup in Germany’s hard-pressed domestic economy.

“Imports show also that after years of stagnation domestic demand is picking up,” said Matthias Rubisch, economist with Germany’s Commerzbank AG.

But the trade data does add to concerns that German economic growth may have dropped back a gear as 2005 came to an end.

Despite racing ahead by 11.5 per cent in December compared to the same month in 2004, exports rose by 0.8 per cent from November 2005, which was about half what analysts had forecast. It also follows a month-on-month decline of 1.6 per cent in November.

Once again, foreign sales of cars, engineering equipment and chemical products emerged as the key drivers of German exports.

Data released this week point to Germany’s leading carmakers enjoying a solid start to the new year with worldwide sales of Mercedes-Benz luxury sedans rising by 5.3 per cent to 64 500 in January. Overall sales for the auto group in Asia grew by 19.6 per cent.

The world’s leading premium car brand BMW AG chalked up a 15 per cent jump in global group sales in January, the company said Tuesday.


Subject: German news