German Exports Top New Record In 2005

Germany looks set to retain its title as champion exporter of the world for 2005 after exports topped another record last year, data showed on Feb. 8. However, the resilience of German exports belies the ongoing sluggishness of domestic demand, which remains the main hurdle to a self-sustaining recovery of the eurozone's biggest economy, analysts here said.

Germany, which was already the world's leading exporter in 2003 and 2004, exported goods worth a record 786.1 billion euros (US$942 billion), a rise of 7.5% from a year earlier, the federal statistics office, Destatis, calculated. The value of imports also increased strongly, primarily as a result of the high price of oil, rising by 8.7% to 625.6 billion euros, the office calculated.

That meant that Germany's trade surplus -- the balance between imports and exports -- expanded by 2.8% to 160.5 billion euros, the highest level since the collation of foreign trade data began following the end of World War II.

Taking into account trade in services and income, Germany's current account showed a surplus of 90.4 billion euros in 2005, up from 84.5 billion euros in 2004. The EU remained the biggest customer for German-made goods, accounting for exports of 498.5 billion euros, or 63% of the total.

While the World Trade Organization has yet to publish its annual country export rankings for 2005, the new data suggest that Germany could once again be ahead of the U.S. and the fast-growing Chinese economy as the world's biggest exporter of goods. By comparison, China exported goods worth a total 637 billion euros last year and its trade surplus was just half of the German figure.

Demand for high-quality manufacturing goods "made in Germany" remains high, said the Cologne-based economic think tank IW. In particular, the dense network of small and medium-sized companies in Germany was highly successful in areas such as machine tools, very much demand in fast-growing economies such as China.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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