German economic growth slows to 0.6 per cent in 2019, worst in years

BERLIN (AP) — The German economy grew by 0.6 per cent last year, its worst performance since 2013, as export growth slowed and manufacturing was weak.

The figure released yesterday by the Federal Statistical Office was in line with economists’ forecast for Europe’s biggest economy.

It was the 10th consecutive year of growth, the longest period since Germany was reunited in 1990, but much slower than in the past few years and the worst performance since the economy expanded by 0.4 per cent in 2013.

The economy grew by 1.5 per cent in 2018, 2.5 per cent in 2017 and 2.2 per cent in 2016.

The statistics office said that private spending, which accelerated slightly to rise 1.6 per cent last year, supported growth. But export growth slowed to 0.9 per cent from 2.1 per cent in 2018 and 4.9 per cent in 2017. Growth in imports, while also weaker than the previous year, was more than twice as strong at 1.9 per cent

There are signs that there was “a slight recovery at the end of the year” and that GDP rose slightly in the fourth quarter compared with the previous three-month period, said Tanja Mucha, an official with the statistics office. She didn’t give a more precise estimate. An official figure for the October-December period is due only in mid-February, and hard economic data for December aren’t yet available.

The economy narrowly avoided a widely anticipated recession in the third quarter. It grew 0.1 per cent in the July-September period compared with the previous quarter, when it contracted by 0.2 per cent. Strong domestic spending helped spark the modest growth.