Exports, a traditional strength of the German economy, are on course to hit new records in both 2012 and 2013 thanks to strong demand for the "Made in Germany" brand outside crisis-hit Europe, official data released on Tuesday showed.
In the first 11 months of 2012, exports grew 4.3 percent to 1.018 trillion ($1.335 trillion), the Federal Statistics Office said. Stagnant sales to the rest of the European Union contrasted with a 10.4 percent jump in exports to non-EU nations.
Separately, the Federation of German Wholesale, Foreign Trade and Services (BGA) said it expects the value of exports to have reached 1.103 trillion in 2012 as a whole, a four percent rise over 2011, when they exceeded the 1 trillion level for the first time. It also forecast slightly stronger export growth of 5 percent in 2013, to 1.16 trillion.
Still, exports weakened at the end of 2012, pulled down by slumping demand in Europe, Germany's biggest market.
The Statistics Office said that exports fell by 3.4 percent in November from the previous month. Exports to the rest of the 17-nation euro zone, hit by austerity drives in the euro crisis, dropped 5.7 percent year-on-year. Meanwhile, exports to the 27-nation EU were down 4.0 percent.
Gaining Momentum for 2013
The German economy, Europe's largest, continued to grow in 2012, but at a slower pace than in the previous two years, mainly because of the weak economic environment in Europe, economists said. The trade surplus in the first 11 months of 2012 shrank to 146.2 billion from 176.2 billion.
"The fourth quarter was weak for Germany and especially for its important export markets," said Christian Schulz, an economist at Berenberg Bank. "The German economy is likely to have contracted in the fourth quarter. But the outlook is better."
The economy is widely expected to pick up steam again in the course of 2013, though. "The decline in output is likely to be temporary," said Ulrike Rondorf, an economist at Commerzbank.
cro -- with wire reports
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