Germany's trade surplus rose to a record high in September as exports climbed across the board, at a time when Europe's largest economy has come under fire for relying too heavily on foreign trade.
The seasonally adjusted trade surplus widened to €18.8 billion from a revised €15.8 billion in August, surpassing the consensus forecast for it to narrow to €15.5 billion.
Until now the record had been €18.7 billion in September 2007.
International criticism has mounted - especially from the US - that Europe's economy must do more to spur domestic demand and that its reliance on exports is hampering Europe's economic stability and hurting the global economy.
The US administration reprimanded Germany in strong terms late last month in its semi-annual report to Congress for its economic imbalances. Germany's current account surplus, at €19.7 billion in September, is the biggest in the world.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso used softer language in Frankfurt this week but his message was similar: Germany had "homework" to do on stability in the euro zone.
Today's figures showed that seasonally-adjusted exports gained a forecast-beating 1.7% on the month, while imports, expected to rise 0.6%, fell 1.9%.
Exports rose to all trade partners but particularly to the European Union, which bought 5.4% more goods and services from Germany. Exports to the euro zone rose by 4.4%, while to non-euro zone states they climbed 7.2%.
Germany received indirect backing yesterday from European Central Bank president Mario Draghi when he said economic imbalances in the euro zone should be overcome without weakening the bloc's strongest economies.
Germany argues it has more than halved its current account surplus with the euro zone as a share of gross domestic product since 2007. Trade is expected to subtract from rather than contribute to economic growth in 2013, while domestic demand, while still weak, will drive Germany's modest expansion.