Sat, Jan 08, 2011 - Page 10 News List

Germany’s trade surplus narrows on faster imports

Reuters and AFP, BERLIN

Germany’s trade balance narrowed in November, with imports gaining speed in a sign that domestic growth is gathering importance in Europe’s largest economy.

Exports, the backbone of the German economy, rose less than forecast, gaining 0.5 percent on the month adjusted for seasonal swings, less than the 0.8 percent growth forecast in a Reuters poll .

Adjusted imports rose 4.1 percent, figures from the German Federal Statistics Office showed, putting the trade surplus at 11.8 billion euros (US$15.3 billion), down from a revised 14.2 billion in October.

“Rising imports are a sign of domestic demand picking up. That is our contribution to the growth of eurozone countries, for many of which we are the most important trade partner,” Holger Sandte at West LB said.

“Exports, too, will go well, even if growth will not be as strong as in 2010,” Sandte said.

Germany’s economy is expected to have expanded by more than 3 percent last year, emerging quickly from its deepest post-war recession the year before that and leaving behind peers in the eurozone still in, or on the brink of, recession.

A Reuters poll had forecast exports would rise 0.8 percent on the month, while imports would increase by 1.2 percent.

However, retail sales, also published on Friday, fell 2.4 percent on the month in November when adjusted for inflation.

The volatile number comprises about three-quarters of all retail sales in Germany.

In other news, Germany’s economy minister on Thursday slammed conditions for Western firms operating in China as Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) arrived for a visit to Berlin as part of a European tour.

Li, widely tipped to be the next premier, arrived for talks with the minister, Rainer Bruederle, ahead of meetings yesterday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.

Speaking in business daily Handelsblatt, Bruederle said: “Improvements need to be made when it comes to access for German firms on the Chinese market,” citing in particular the insurance and banking sectors.

“Foreign firms still complain about a lack of transparency and predictability,” he said.

“On my visit to China, I often heard complaints that important regulations were introduced suddenly and without consulting the economic players involved,” the minister said.

While Chinese legislation is increasingly in line with world standards, there “are failures in implementing this legislation,” especially in the provinces, Bruederle said.

China and Germany are the No. 1 and No. 2 exporters in the world respectively.

According to Berlin’s statistics, Germany exported 37.3 billion euros in goods to China in 2009, while Chinese exports to Germany reached 56.7 billion euros.

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