German exports up in February, virus hurts China trade

FRANKFURT AM MAIN (AFP) – German exports rose in February, official data showed yesterday, but a plunge in trade with China revealed the first impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy.

Exports grew 1.3 per cent month-on-month while imports fell 1.6 per cent, federal statistics body Destatis said in seasonally adjusted figures.

Germany’s trade surplus widened to EUR21.6 billion from EUR18.5 billion, it added.

Imports were dragged lower by a 12-per cent year-on-year drop in goods arriving from China as the coronavirus forced Chinese businesses and factories to close and kept millions of people at home.

German goods exports to China fell by nearly nine per cent over the same period, Destatis added.

The virus has since spread from China across the planet, leaving nearly half the world’s population under some type of lockdown and pummelling the global economy.

Destatis said it was too early to estimate the impact of confinement measures on export powerhouse Germany, Europe’s biggest economy.

“Major effects of the coronavirus crisis on foreign trade can be expected from the reference month of March,” it said.

Figures for March are due to be released on May 8. The World Trade Organization (WTO) on Wednesday warned that global trade could plummet by up to a third this year because of the pandemic.