Germany: Trade data remains uninspiring as exports contract in August
Trade data remained lackluster in August, with exports contracting 0.1% over the previous month on a seasonally- and calendar-adjusted basis. The result was an improvement from July’s revised 0.8% contraction (previously reported: -0.9% month-on-month) but contrasted market expectations of a small increase. Imports contracted 2.7% in August, contrasting July’s 2.8% expansion. As a result, the calendar and seasonally-adjusted trade surplus widened from EUR 15.8 billion in July to EUR 18.3 billion in August. Most trade was conducted with fellow European Union member states.
A year-on-year comparison showed that growth in exports moderated notably from 7.7% in July to 2.2% in August. Similarly, import growth eased from 12.0% in July to 6.2% in August. Growth in the 12-month moving sum of exports moderated from 5.1% in July to 4.7% in August, while growth in the 12-month moving sum of imports edged down to 6.1% in August from 6.3% in July. Moreover, the 12-month moving sum of the trade surplus narrowed somewhat to EUR 241.2 billion in August from EUR 244.2 billion in July.
Commenting on the August result, Holger Bingmann, President of the Federal Association of Wholesale, Foreign Trade and Services (BGA), stated that “in view of the many uncertainties, in particular triggered by the direct and indirect consequences of the trade disputes, we look with caution towards the end of the year. It is certainly too early to sound the alarm, but there are increasing signs that companies must adjust to weaker export growth.”
Carsten Brzeski, chief economist at ING, states: “the ongoing trade tensions have not led to any structural changes in the German export sector. Exports to most main trading partners have remained broadly unchanged since the start of the year. The US is still Germany’s single most important export destination […]. Call this a pre-Brexit effect but the UK is losing importance, capturing only 6% of all German exports”.