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Germany widens trade surplus in August

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Booming exports pumped up Germany's trade surplus in August, as calls grow for Europe's largest economy to use the cash it brings in to nurture growth.

[BERLIN] Booming exports pumped up Germany's trade surplus in August, as calls grow for Europe's largest economy to use the cash it brings in to nurture growth.

Firms exported 102.3 billion euros (S$157.10 billion) of goods in August 2016 adjusting for seasonal and calendar effects, the federal statistics office Destatis said.

That was an increase of 5.4 per cent over July's figure, which had seen exports fall to their lowest level since Jan 2015 in the wake of Brexit.

Meanwhile, Germany imported 80.1 billion euros of goods in August, a slower increase of just 3 per cent over the previous month's value - leaving the trade surplus standing at 22.2 billion euros.

In unadjusted terms, exports to EU countries outside the euro single currency saw the strongest growth, gaining 11.8 per cent compared with Aug 2015.

But sales of German goods to fellow members of the 19-nation eurozone also grew strongly, up 8.8 per cent over the same month last year, while sales to the rest of the world increased 9.6 per cent.

German imports from the EU increased 5.2 per cent and from the rest of the world 5.5 per cent compared with Aug 2015.

"While the month of July was a month to forget for the entire industry and export sector, August has surprised to the upside," said analyst Carsten Brzeski at ING Diba bank.

Data last week showed a surge in orders for German industrial firms in August, pointing to a potentially stronger third quarter than expected, he recalled.

Brexit alone can't explain the ups and downs, Mr Brzeski said, while warning that the weak pound sterling means "the German export sector should already this year pay a price for the British referendum".

Berlin has come in for increasing criticism over the scale of its trade surplus with struggling neighbour countries in the eurozone.

Global financial chiefs including IMF director general Christine Lagarde and European Central Bank president Mario Draghi have called on Germany in recent weeks to help stimulate growth in the single currency bloc by spending more.

AFP