German exports plummet in largest decline since 1950

German exports plummet in largest decline since 1950

German exports plummet in largest decline since 1950

German exports dropped by almost a third in April, compared to last year, in the largest month-on-month decline since the start of foreign trade statistics in 1950.

Coronavirus crisis takes bottom out of German export market

The coronavirus crisis is hitting German companies severely, as border closures, travel restrictions and disruptions to sea and air freight caused German exports to plummet in April. Compared to April 2019, the total value of export goods fell by 31,1 percent to 75,7 billion euros, according to the Federal Statistical Office. This is the largest drop since the start of foreign trade statistics in 1950. Compared to March 2020, exports decreased by 24 percent.     

The closing of borders, particularly within the European single market, the worldwide imposition of trade and travel restrictions, and enormous disruptions in sea and air freight led to a drastic decline in exports. In March already, exports had sunk by almost eight percent compared to March 2019. 

Imports also down significantly

Compared to this time last year, imports also decreased, by 21,6 percent to 72,2 billion euros. A similar decline - almost 24 percent - was recorded in July 2009 during the global financial crisis. 

Overall, goods worth 75,7 billion euros were exported in April and imports totalled 72,2 billion euros. The foreign trade surplus was therefore 3,5 billion euros - the lowest export surplus since December 2000, when it dipped to 1,7 billion euros. In April 2019, for comparison, the surplus was 17,8 billion euros. 

German GDP expected to decline by 6,5 percent in 2020

“Little remains of the export boom of the past 10 years,” said the chief economist at Bankhaus Lampe, Alexander Krüger. He added that the recovery has likely begun, thanks to the recent easing of lockdown restrictions and reopening of borders. However, he warned that, “The way out of the Corona Valley is long, rocky and, above all, unsafe, especially for foreign trade.” 

The German economy is facing a deep recession in 2020, with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry expecting exports to decline by at least 15 percent for the year as a whole. The EU Commission is predicting a 6,5 percent decline in gross domestic product in Germany, which would make it the largest slump in the post-war period. 



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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