German exports and imports slumped in April, posting their biggest declines since 1990 as the coronavirus crisis slashed demand, adding to a gloomy outlook for Europe's biggest economy, data showed today. 

Many economists believe the pandemic will push the German economy into its biggest decline since the end of World War Two in the second quarter. 

Seasonally adjusted exports dived 24% on the month while imports slid by 16.5%. The country's trade surplus shrank to €3.2 billion, the Federal Statistics Office said. 

Economists polled by Reuters had expected exports to fall by 15.6% and saw imports down 16%. The trade surplus was expected to come in at €10 billion. 

Alexander Krueger, economist at Bankhaus Lampe, said a recovery may have already started due to a loosening of the lockdown and re-opening of borders, but little was left of the last decade's export boom. 

"The road out of the corona trough is long, rocky and above all uncertain, especially for foreign trade," he said. 

Despite a €130 billion stimulus package announced last week, which comes on top of €750 billion worth of measures announced in March, the government expects the economy to shrink by 6.3% this year. 

Economists expect a slow recovery and the pace will depend largely on how fast Germany's European neighbours and other trade partners including China and the US emerge from the crisis.

Exports to France and the US, hit hard by the coronavirus, fell most. Exports to China, which was first affected by the virus but which has since started to see some signs of recovery, fell slightly less sharply, the Federal Statistics Office said.