German trade surplus dips in December, but hits full-year record

Friday 07 February 2014 08.13
Germany exported goods worth €92.5 billion in December, down from November's levels
Germany exported goods worth €92.5 billion in December, down from November's levels

Germany's trade surplus narrowed slightly in December, as export momentum tailed off at at the end of the year, but Europe's biggest economy notched up a record surplus for the whole year.

In seasonally adjusted terms, Germany exported goods worth €92.5 billion in December, down from €93.3 billion in November, the federal statistics office Destatis said in a statement.

Imports fell less steeply to €74 billion from €74.4 billion.
 
That meant the seasonally adjusted trade surplus - the balance between imports and exports - decreased to €18.5 billion in December from €18.9 billion in November.

In unadjusted terms, the trade surplus also declined, to €14.2 billion in December from €19.1 billion in November, as exports fell faster than imports, Destatis said.

Taking the year as a whole, however, the German trade surplus soared to a record €198.9 billion - the highest ever since foreign trade data were collected - from €189.8 billion in 2012. 

In unadjusted terms, the trade surplus also declined, to €14.2 billion in December from €19.1 billion in November, as exports fell faster than imports, Destatis said.

Taking the year as a whole, however, the German trade surplus soared to a record €198.9 billion - the highest ever since foreign trade data were collected -- from €189.8 billion in 2012. 

Germany has come under fire for its booming trade surplus, with critics arguing that its economic prowess comes at the expense of the euro zone's weaker members.

The critics argue that Germany needs to boost domestic demand and so help its EU partners by spurring export-driven growth in their economies rather than continue to rely mostly on its own exports for growth.

But Berlin has persistently dismissed the criticism, arguing that the high surplus reflects the competitiveness of German firms.

And the latest trade data appeared to support this. Full-year exports to the euro area were down 1.2%, Destatis calculated, while exports to non-euro zone countries increased by 2.6%.

Exports to the EU inched up by 0.1% in the whole of 2013 and exports to the rest of the world slipped by 0.5%.