Germany's exporters started the new year with a plus. In January 2023, goods "Made in Germany" with a total value of 130.6 billion euros were delivered abroad, as calculated by the Federal Statistical Office. According to the Wiesbaden authority on Friday, that was 2.1 percent more than in December last year and 8.6 percent more than a year earlier, adjusted for calendar and seasonal effects.
Increasing demand from the most important individual market, the USA, provided a boost. German manufacturers sold goods there to the value of 12.7 billion euros, 3.1 percent more than in December. The German export economy also benefited from the recovery of the Chinese economy after the end of the strict corona measures there. From December to January, exports to the People's Republic of China increased by 1.4 percent to 7.7 billion euros.
"At the beginning of the year, we are observing that China is continuing to lose importance and exports to the USA are steadily increasing. It is gratifying that German-British trade relations are strengthening again," summarized Dirk Jandura, President of the Federal Association of Wholesale, Foreign Trade Services (BGA). .
The global environment for Germany as an export nation remains challenging: the war in Ukraine is ongoing and high inflation is stubborn. Many customers are still "reluctant to make new investments in view of the considerable uncertainties," summarized Ralph Wiechers, chief economist of the Association of German Machine and Plant Manufacturers (VDMA).
mood has deteriorated
The result: Germany's mechanical and plant engineering companies had to post a double-digit drop in incoming orders at the beginning of the year. Adjusted for price increases (real), new orders in January 2023 were 18 percent below the level of the same month last year. According to VDMA information, the strong decline can also be explained in part by the fact that January 2022 went particularly well.
Overall, the mood among Germany's exporters has recently deteriorated slightly, as the Ifo Institute found in its monthly survey of over 2,300 industrial companies. In the chemical industry, for example, "disillusionment has returned," wrote the Ifo Institute in its February survey: "After a promising start to the new year, companies are now assuming steady export business." The same applies to manufacturers of food and beverages. The automotive industry is therefore assuming that exports will increase.
According to the Federal Office, imports to Germany in January were 3.4 percent below the December figure at 113.9 billion euros, but 5.2 percent above the level of the same month last year. The foreign trade balance closed in January 2023 with a surplus of 16.7 billion euros.