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Carsten Brzeski, chief economist at ING, provides his take on the German trade balance data released today, showing that surplus widened to €19.4 billion in December from €18.9 billion in November.

Key quotes:  

“German exports (seasonally and calendar adjusted) increased by 1.5% month-on-month in December, from 0.3% MoM in November. Imports increased by 1.2% MoM, from -1.3% MoM in November. Not adjusted for seasonal and calendar effects, exports in 2018 were some 3% higher than in 2017. Interestingly, despite all trade war fears, the export sector didn’t just grow in 2018 but probably contributed positively to the economy’s fourth quarter GDP growth.”

“Looking ahead, the balancing act for the German export sector will continue. While the temporary problems in the automotive sector will gradually be resolved (even though a WLTP 2.0 is approaching) and should boost exports, the risks and uncertainties from outside the eurozone are clearly the make-it-or-break-it factor for the export sector.”