The sharp rise in energy import prices has reduced Germany's export surplus in trade with other countries. It is true that Europe's largest economy once again exported more than it imported last year.
The foreign trade balance - the difference between exports and imports - decreased significantly from 175.3 billion euros in the previous year to 79.7 billion euros, as the Federal Statistical Office announced on Thursday. It was the lowest export surplus since 2000.
Germany's export strength had repeatedly caused resentment in other countries. Above all, former US President Donald Trump sharply criticized the surpluses.
Despite the weakening economy, China remained Germany's largest trading partner for the seventh year in a row with foreign trade sales of 297.9 billion euros. While the value of goods imported from the People's Republic rose by 33.6 percent to a record 191.1 billion euros, exports "Made in Germany" only increased by 3.1 percent to 106.8 billion euros. The most important trading partners are the USA with a turnover of 247.8 billion euros and the Netherlands with 233.6 billion euros.
Most exports went to the USA
As has been the case since 2015, most German exports went to the USA. Goods worth 156.1 billion euros were exported there (plus 27.9 percent). Imports from the United States increased by 26.8 percent to 91.7 billion euros. France (116.1 billion) ranked second among the most important customer countries, followed by the Netherlands (110.6 billion).
The importance of Great Britain for German foreign trade continued to decline after the final break with the EU at the beginning of 2021. With a foreign trade turnover of 111 billion euros, the country slipped from 10th to 11th place on the list of the most important trading partners, behind the Czech Republic. In 2017, the year after the Brexit referendum, Great Britain was still fifth.
Export hits last year were cars "Made in Germany". Vehicles and vehicle parts were exported to the value of 244.4 billion euros (plus 16.0 percent). As in previous years, machines and chemical products were also among the most popular products abroad.
The most important imported goods were data processing equipment, electrical and optical products worth 147.8 billion euros, followed by chemical products. With a strong increase of 79.1 percent to 131.1 billion euros, oil and natural gas ranked third.
According to the industry association BDI, price-adjusted German exports developed two percentage points weaker than global trade last year. "The export country Germany lost world market share and competitiveness last year," said BDI General Manager Tanja Gönner recently.