German exports slump as global recession bites
German exports slumped by 4.4 per cent in January, data released Tuesday showed, as the global recession hits Europe's biggest economy.
The fall in exports was more than the 4 per cent predicted by economists and followed a sharp 4-per-cent drop in December with the world's leading export nation facing a dramatic decline in demand in its key markets in Europe, Asia and Eastern Europe, reported dpa.
"The growth engine of the German economy is out of fuel," said ING economist Carsten Brzeski. "Any stabilization of the economy in 2009 will have to come from domestic demand."
It was the fourth consecutive monthly fall in exports and came amid a slew of key economic data and indicators pointing to a weak start to the year for the nation's economy.
While German exports to its partners in the 16-member eurozone tumbled by 17.4 per cent from a year earlier, exports to non-European Union countries plunged by 24.5 per cent.
The German economy contracted for the third quarter in a row during the final three months of 2008, shrinking by 2.1 per cent with economists forecasting that the nation's growth rate could slide by up to 5 per cent this year.
In the meantime, imports fell by 0.8 per cent from a 4.8-per-cent drop in December, which resulted in a further narrowing of the German trade surplus from 11.0 billion euros (14 billion dollars) in December to 8.4 billion euros in January.