German official raw trade surplus rises in March

Germany's trade surplus increased in March for the third month in a row, rising to 18.8 billion euros from 16.8 billion euros in February, unadjusted data from the federal statistics office showed on Friday.

But seasonally adjusted data showed that the trade surplus fell slightly to 17.6 billion euros ($23.0 billion) from 17.7 billion dollars in February.

The data showed that German exports are suffering from the knock-on effect of the eurozone debt crisis.

The unadjusted value of imports rose to 75.8 billion euros and of exports to 94.6 billion euros.

But after adjustment for seasonal factors, the surplus slipped slightly to 17.6 billion euros.

The surplus for February was, however, revised upwards to 17.7 billion euros from 17.1 billion euros announced previously.

On a 12-month comparison, a decline of unadjusted exports data, measuring the main driving force of the German economy, accelerated. The value of exports fell by 4.2 percent, having shown a fall of 2.8 percent in February.

But imports fell by even more, by 6.9 percent on a 12-month comparison.

The European Union remains the main trading partner for Germany. German exports to the EU in March amounted to 53.8 billion euros of which 35.3 billion euros' worth' went to other eurozone countries.

But the effect of the eurozone debt crisis in eurozone countries continued to be felt. On a 12-month basis, German exports to the eurozone fell by 7.0 percent whereas exports to EU countries outside the eurozone fell by 2.2 percent, and to non-European countries by 2.6 percent.

At Berenberg Bank, senior economist Christian Schulz commented that exports rose by 0.5% from the level in February and imports by 0.8 percent.

"As exports started from a much higher base, the overall trade balance increased to 18.8 billion euros," he noted.

"Trade in the first quarter of 2013 overall was weak, as exports were 4.2 percent lower year-on-year in the first quarter of 2012 and imports 6.9 lower.

He said: "In the first quarter, exports remained under serious pressure from weak demand in the eurozone. In addition, some wobbles in non-European markets in quarter one and competition from Abenomics-supercharged Japanese exporters started to make an impact.

"While Yen-weakness is likely to remain a problem for German exporters for some time, demand in the Eurozone and the rest of the world should stabilise over the course of the year. However, exports may be less of a growth engine this year than recently."

He also commented that "despite the decline in imports from the eurozone, Germany's trade surplus with the currency zone is continuing to decline."

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