German exports rise again in September as China demand soars

FRANKFURT AM MAIN (AFP) – Germany’s exports rose for the fifth straight month in September, official data showed yesterday, with China leading recovering demand as many Asian economies put the coronavirus pandemic behind them.

Exports grew 2.3 per cent month-on-month, after a 2.4 per cent rise in August, federal statistics agency Destatis said in seasonally adjusted figures.

Imports fell 0.1 per cent in August.

Germany shipped goods abroad worth EUR109.8 billion (USD130.3 billion) and imported goods worth EUR89 billion.

The fifth-straight rise follows a plunge in activity in March and April, when virus lockdowns closed factories and businesses.

Exports in September were still 3.8 per cent down on the same month last year, and 7.7 per cent below the pre-crisis level of February 2020.

While the German economy strongly rebounded in the third quarter – growing 8.2 per cent after contracting 9.8 per cent in the spring – new shutdowns announced by Chancellor Angela Merkel that closed restaurants and cafes, the leisure and cultural sectors, will squeeze consumer spending in November.

However, the new regulations do not close factories or manufacturing businesses, including Germany’s key car industry, which should reduce some of the economic impact on exports.
But international trade remains dependent on how other countries are dealing with the pandemic.

Exports to China rose 10.6 per cent year-on-year, but exports to the United States (US), which is struggling with record high coronavirus case rates, were down 5.8 per cent, and to Britain down by 12.4 per cent.

Meanwhile, exports to Germany’s biggest market – the European Union (EU) – slipped 3.3 per cent in the month compared with August.

“Exports could still prevent the economy from falling into a second lockdown depression,” ING economist Carsten Brzeski said, but with the introduction of the latest restrictions in key markets including France and Italy, “it is hard to see how German exports could remain unharmed.”