Germany: Exports rebound in March; 12-month moving trade surplus hits over 18-year high
May 8, 2018
Following three consecutive contractions, German exports rebounded in March, expanding 1.7% on a seasonally- and calendar-adjusted month-on-month basis. This contrasted the revised 3.1% contraction recorded in the month prior (previously reported: -3.2% month-on-month). Meanwhile, imports continued to contract in March, albeit at a softer pace than in February. Imports contracted 0.9% on a seasonally- and calendar-adjusted month-on-month basis, easing from February’s revised 1.4% contraction (previously reported: -1.3% mom). As a result, Germany’s trade surplus rose to a four-month high of EUR 22.0 billion in March from a revised EUR 19.4 billion in February (previously reported: EUR 19.2 billion).
On an annual basis, exports contracted 1.8% in March, the worst performance in nearly a year and contrasting the 2.4% expansion recorded in February. A similar trend was observed in imports, which experienced a sharper downturn in annual terms. Imports shrank 2.3% year-on-year in March (February: +4.7% year-on-year), the largest contraction in over a year and a half. The annual variation of the 12-month moving sum of exports decreased from 6.0% in February to 4.8%. The annual variation of the 12-month moving sum of imports declined from 8.0% in February to 6.5%. On a more positive note, as imports shrank considerably, outpacing the downturn in exports, the 12-month accumulative trade balance went up from a revised EUR 247.2 billion surplus in February (previously reported: EUR +247.1 billion) to a EUR 250.0 billion surplus in March, the highest since January 2000.
Commenting on March’s results, Holger Bingmann, President of the Federal Association of Wholesale, Foreign Trade and Services (BGA) stated:
"Despite positive numbers, however, we are already seeing the first effects of global disruptive fire and uncertainties. Not only has trade with Great Britain dropped significantly, but also the exchange of goods with the United States has declined considerably. The EU member states, on the other hand, have once again proven to be the most important partner. This again underlines the importance of the EU for Germany.”
Author: Lindsey Ice, Economist