A new study by the German Economic Institute (IW) showed that Germany’s export markets continued to deteriorate as the Covid-19 crisis severely impacted global trade.
At the same time, “the Chinese economy is already looking ahead with cautious optimism,” said Galina Kolev, senior economist and head of the research group Macroeconomic Analyses and Business Cycles at IW.
According to the Federal Statistical Office, German exports to China only decreased “rather moderately” by 12.3 percent to €7.2 billion ($8.2 billion) in May. At the same time, exports to the United States plunged by 36.5 percent to €6.5 billion.
The differing impacts of the coronavirus crisis across the world will change countries’ “relative importance” to the German economy in 2020, according to IW. “China’s rise to export destination country number one is of particular symbolic significance,” said Kolev.
Statistics showed that in 2019, China was Germany’s third most important customer (after the United States and France), with exported goods worth €96 billion ($109 billion).
The export gap between China and Germany’s biggest export countries decreased “substantially” in the first five months of the year. As official data for June is yet to be released, IW expects that China has already replaced France as Germany’s second largest export market.
The current coronavirus crisis has “accelerated a process that has been going on for several decades,” said Kolev. The growth of the Chinese economy, which was already slowing down but still remained relatively high by international standards, had made China an “attractive export market.”
China’s customs data showed that exports and imports grew significantly in June. Imports rose 2.7 percent from a year earlier and, according to expert expectations, will continue to grow.
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