German trade surplus widens in June
FRANKFURT-Agence France-PresseGermany’s trade surplus grew in June, official figures showed on Aug. 8, while sabre rattling continues in Washington and Brussels over possible U.S. protectionist moves.
Europe’s largest economy exported 21.2 billion euros ($25 billion) worth of goods more than it imported in June, the federal statistics authority, Destatis, calculated in figures adjusted for seasonal and calendar effects.
In absolute terms, the amount of goods sold abroad amounted to 104.9 billion euros in June, a drop of 2.8 percent from the figure for May, while the total amount of goods bought from abroad totalled 83.7 billion euros, down 4.5 percent on the month.
Germany increased both its imports from and its exports to the EU in June, but while its imports from the rest of the world grew strongly, exports shrank slightly.
The drop in exports was “disappointing,” analyst Carsten Brzeski of ING Diba bank said, although he noted that increased trade from fellow EU members slightly offset the fall in exports to Britain.
British customers’ purchasing power is weaker, as the pound has lost value since voters elected to quit the EU in June 2016.
Overall, Germany’s trade surplus -- which has long been a bone of contention between Berlin and the U.S. and even its closest allies in the EU -- grew in both a month-on-month and year-on-year comparison.
Germany’s trading partners argue that Europe’s economic powerhouse could do more to rein in its trade surplus and thereby help to boost their economies, for example, by investing more at home to drive up imports.
But Berlin has long insisted that its export strength is attributable to the quality of its products. Germany also argues that the loose monetary policy from the European Central Bank has driven down the euro, making German exports more competitively priced in other currencies.
U.S. President Donald Trump, who swept to power on protectionist rhetoric, has threatened to slap punitive tariffs on German and European goods in a bid to drive down America’s trade deficit.
The European Union has said it is ready to respond with sanctions of its own on items from across the Atlantic.
Meanwhile, “German exporters are unnerved” by Washington’s latest sanctions against Russia and Iran, which could affect European firms, Federation of German Industry (BDI) director Joachim Lang said in a statement.
“The U.S. and Europe should stick to the consensus of solving conflicts together and coordinate more on trade and sanctions policy,” he added.