Germany: Exports contract at steepest pace on record in April
The German external sector recorded its worst performance on record in April as the full effect of the Covid-19 pandemic and associated containment measures was felt. Merchandise exports nosedived 24.0% month-on-month on a calendar- and seasonally-adjusted basis, down from March’s already steep drop of 11.7%. Imports, meanwhile, contracted 16.5% over the prior month, down from a 5.0% fall in March. Consequently, the calendar- and seasonally-adjusted trade surplus narrowed from EUR 12.8 billion in March to EUR 3.2 billion in April. This marked the smallest monthly trade surplus since December 2000.
Compared to the same month a year prior, exports dropped 31.1% (March: -7.7% year-on-year) and imports fell 21.6% (March: -4.4% yoy). On a 12-month rolling basis, exports contracted 3.2% (March: -0.7%) and imports shrank 2.6% (March: -0.6%). All told, the 12-month rolling sum of the trade balance narrowed to EUR 208.3 billion in April from EUR 222.4 billion in March.
Commenting on the data, Ines Kitzing, first vice president of the Federal Association of Wholesale, Foreign Trade and Services (BGA), noted: “For the first time, we see the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in full on foreign trade. […] We will have to deal with the consequences of the global lockdown for a long time to come. Neither logistics nor supply chains can be started up again overnight. Just because a certain normality is gradually returning to Germany does not mean that our customers and suppliers worldwide can do it.”