German exports down 9.3% last year, biggest fall since 2009

Cars and trucks drive on a highway in Frankfurt, Germany, on a rainy Friday, Jan. 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
Cars and trucks drive on a highway in Frankfurt, Germany, on a rainy Friday, Jan. 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Probst) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

BERLIN – Germany's exports plunged by 9.3% last year as the coronavirus pandemic dragged down demand, the biggest drop since the financial crisis in 2009, official data showed Tuesday.

Imports dropped 7.1%, the Federal Statistical Office said. That also was the steepest decline since 2009, when exports fell by 18.4% and imports by 17.5%.

The United States remained the single biggest destination for German exports despite a 12.5% drop, taking goods to the tune of 103.8 billion euros ($125 billion). China placed second with a minimal 0.1% decline to 95.9 billion euros and France third with 91 billion euros — a 14.6% fall.

China was the biggest single source of imports to Germany, with its total increasing 5.6% to 116.2 billion euros. The Netherlands and the United States were second and third, with declines of 9.6% and 5% respectively.

Figures released last month showed that the German economy, Europe's biggest, shrank by 5% last year. That was a better outcome than long expected.

Last year's figures left Germany with an export surplus of 179.1 billion euros — its smallest since 2011, and the fourth consecutive decline.

The statistics office said that exports in December were 2.7% higher than a year earlier, and up 0.1% compared with the previous month.

While there were significant year-on-year rises in December in exports to both China and the United States, exports to the U.K. dropped 3.3% in the last month before the country left the European Union's single market.