Germany’s March exports plunged the most in almost a year, while imports also fell due to economic slowdown in China and the impact of the Ukraine tensions.
The Federal Statistics Office reported that seasonally-adjusted overseas shipments declined 1.8 percent in March, marking the second month of straight decline, while imports fell 0.9 percent, shrinking the trade surplus to 14.8 billion euros. Economists polled by Reuters had expected imports to surge 1 percent and imports to grow 0.5 percent.
The seasonally-adjusted trade balance declined from 15.8 billion euros in February. The trade surplus in March fell short of a forecast of 16.6 billion euros.
“As already reflected in other industrial data, the month March saw a stronger real economic impact from the Ukrainian crisis and the Chinese slowdown as confidence indicators had suggested,” said ING economist Carsten Brzeski.”All in all, with ongoing geopolitical problems and the slowing emerging economies, it looks as if Germany’s famous export engine could still be sputtering for a while,” he added.
Germany saw its exports to Russia plunged 16 percent in January and February. Europe’s leading economy expects foreign trade, a key driver of its economic engine, to lag this year. Domestic demand is therefore expected to fuel much of this year’s economic growth.
However, Germany exported more to EU member states that don’t use euro like the UK, with exports to such areas surging 10.4 percent, while imports grew 10.8 percent. On an annualized basis, unadjusted figures show shipments to the euro zone rose 0.1 percent in March, while imports grew 2.3 percent.
The country’s current account in March rose to 19.5 billion euros, up from 13.8 billion euros a month earlier.