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Germany slips to third largest exporting nation - nevertheless, exports have never been as important to the country as they are today

Press Release of March 6, 2013

Since last year, Germany has not even been runner-up in visible exports. It has been overtaken by China, and now the US, on the list of the most prolific global exporting nations. But does this mean losing more than just an attention-grabbing title? Are exports becoming less important to Germany? A closer look at structures and trade patterns shows that in fact the opposite is true. Exports have never been as important to the German economy as they are today. The Federal Republic of Germany is much more dependent on exports than countries of comparable size, and their economic significance has increased considerably in the last decade. In 2012, Germany exported goods worth a total of 1.1 trillion euros, corresponding to a record 44 percent of its gross domestic product. Although Germany remains the strongest exporting country in Europe, the importance of the euro area as a sales market has been waning since 2000. The economic community has also lost relevance for other EU countries, as it proved to be comparatively less receptive even before the crisis. However, the German economy has stemmed the decline in sales in these markets by compensating with growth in Asian markets-primarily China-and trade with new EU member states. In addition to broadening the export base, product groups are becoming more diversified. While machinery and vehicles still account for almost half of German exports and easily make the largest contribution to the foreign trade surplus, other product groups, such as chemical products, have been playing an increasingly crucial role for years. Overall, German foreign trade is dominated to a large extent by complementary trade relationships: in particular, exporting technically complex and knowledge-intensive industrial finished goods and importing agricultural products and raw materials.


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  • O-Ton von Karl Brenke
    Die deutsche Wirtschaft ist vom Exportgeschäft abhängiger als je zuvor - Sieben Fragen an Karl Brenke