German exports suffer a Q4 tumble in 2019

Slowing world economy and coronavirus fears mean outlook is unclear for 2020


Exports from Germany fell by 0.2 per cent in the last three months of 2019, according to new figures released today from the Federal Statistics Office in Berlin.

The figures confirm that Europe’s largest economy was slowing down even before the global picture became uncertain following the coronavirus outbreak.

German’s manufacturers depend on exports, but in recent months the slowdown in the world economy, disputes over tariffs and uncertainty over potential trade deals with the UK as it leaves the European Union after Brexit, have all weighed heavily. China is Germany’s most important trading partner, with car makers being especially dependent on both Chinese supply chains and demand from China.

The Federal Statistics Office said exports fell by 0.2 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2019.

The trade outlook remains clouded as the coronavirus epidemic is adding another risk, Ifo president Clemens Fuest told Reuters.

The Ifo index for export expectations fell in February, with car companies among the most pessimistic, Fuest added.

Gross investment – which includes construction – rose by 2.9 per cent in the last quarter of the year, adding 0.6 percentage points to growth, the statistics office said.

The Statistics Office confirmed that the German economy grew by 0.6 per cent last year, the weakest expansion rate since the eurozone debt crisis in 2013.

For 2020, the government expects growth to pick up to 1.1 per cent, helped mainly by a higher number of working days in a leap year. Adjusted for calendar effects, Berlin predicts 0.7 per cent growth.

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