German trade surplus slips in March as exports fall

Friday 09 May 2014 13.01
German exports fell 1.8% in March to €91.6 billion
German exports fell 1.8% in March to €91.6 billion

Germany's trade surplus shrank in March after exports again fell - another indication the Ukraine crisis is beginning to hurt Europe's top economy. 

Germany posted a trade surplus of €14.8 billion, down from the slightly revised figure for February of €15.8 billion, the official data showed.

The figure, which allows for seasonal blips, was below forecasts of analysts.

German exports fell 1.8% in March to €91.6 billion, while imports slipped 0.9% compared to the previous month, to €76.7 billion, the federal statistics office Destatis said.

In unadjusted terms, the German trade surplus stood at €16.4 billion, a slight increase from the February level.

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

Analysts said the monthly fall in exports was the biggest since May 2013 and confirmed "the shot-across-the-bow feeling" from other industrial data this week. 

Data released yesterday showed that industrial output fell by 0.5% in March after rising slightly in February, due to lower manufacturing and construction output. 

And industrial orders, a key measure of demand for German-made goods, took an unexpected and marked hit in March due to concerns over the turmoil in Ukraine, figures released a day earlier showed. 

Germany's exports to other euro zone countries nudged up 0.1% in March compared to the same month a year earlier, but jumped 10.4% to other EU countries.

Meanwhile imports to Germany from the euro zone grew 2.3% in March from a year earlier and 10.8% from the rest of the EU. 

A provisional figure for first-quarter German GDP is due to be published next week.