BERLIN — German exports increased for the third consecutive month in December, capping a year in which they rose 14% compared with 2020, official figures showed today.
The Federal Statistical Office said that exports from Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, were up 0.9% in December compared with the previous month. That followed gains of 1.8% in November and 3.9% in October.
Imports were up 5.7% in December, their fifth consecutive monthly increase.
For 2021 as a whole, exports rose 14% to some 1.38 trillion euros ($1.57 trillion), the statistics office said. Imports were up 17.1% at over 1.2 trillion euros ($1.37 trillion).
The United States remained Germany’s top export destination, with China second and France third. China was the biggest source of imports to Germany, followed by the Netherlands and the U.S.
Trade with Britain was a notable exception to the upward trend in the first year after the U.K. left the European Union’s single market and customs union. Exports to the U.K. dropped 2.6% in 2021 and imports plunged 8.5%.
The third consecutive monthly rise in December suggests that “the German export sector prevented the entire economy from shrinking more than the recorded 0.7% quarter-on-quarter in the final quarter of the year,” ING economist Carsten Brzeski said in a research note.
“The weak euro exchange rate and few social restrictions in the main export destinations seem to have driven export growth,” he said.
Looking ahead, export order books are still full but “we will first need to see industrial production picking up again before exports surge as well,” Brzeski added.