Germany: Merchandise exports growth decelerates in April
Merchandise exports growth softened to 0.3% month-on-month in April from 1.3% in March, while imports fell 1.7% month-on-month from a 7.1% expansion in the prior month. The data suggests that lingering restrictions to combat the spread of the coronavirus weighed on external and domestic demand at the outset of the second quarter. However, supply bottlenecks also weighed on imports. The calendar- and seasonally-adjusted trade surplus widened to EUR 15.9 billion in April from EUR 14.0 in March.
On an annual basis, exports of goods skyrocketed 47.7% in April (March: +16.3% yoy). While this is suggestive of healthier demand dynamics compared to the same period a year ago, a supportive base effect flattered the reading. In April last year much of the world was in lockdown during the first wave of the pandemic, which weighed heavily on activity and foreign trade. Imports jumped 33.2% over the same month a year earlier in April on the back of a similar narrative (March: +16.2% yoy).
Anton F. Börner, president of the Federal Association of Wholesale, Foreign Trade and Services (BGA) commented:
“It is unlikely that the delivery bottlenecks will be resolved in the short term. In fact, after this crisis it will take months for the international supply chains to re-establish themselves. Calls for export bans, trade defense instruments or tariffs are not a solution in this situation and do not suit a foreign trade nation. In the current situation in particular, one should avoid any additional burdens on the supply chains, including a poorly made national supply chain law.”