German exports grew in March, according to latest available figures, indicating that the economy is picking up speed again. However, exporters still have a long way to go to offset the sales slump in recent months.
German exports rose 0.5 percent in March compared with the previous month, reaching a total volume of 94.6 billion euros ($123 billion), the German Federal Statistics Office, Destatis, said Friday.
Even though the rise was the third in four months, it wasn't enough to offset a steep 1.2-percent decline in February, Destatis announced.
In addition, a rise in imports in March by 0.8 percent to 75.8 billion euros wasn't sufficient to stop the German trade surplus from widening in the month, when it reached 18.8 billion euros.
Destatis data may show that the German economy has regained growth in the first quarter of 2013, after contracting in the final quarter of last year. However, the trade figures for March remain substantially lower compared with those in the same month a year ago.
On a 12-month comparison, exports were down 4.2 percent and imports declined 6.9 percent.
"In the first quarter, exports remained under serious pressure from weak demand in the eurozone," Christian Schulz, senior economist at Berenberg Bank, told the AFP news agency.
He also said that he saw increasing competition from Japanese exporters due to a weaker yen, which would make exports less of a growth engine for Germany.
Indeed, the year-on-year export slump was most dramatic with regard to the crisis-hit eurozone, to which Germany delivered 7 percent fewer goods and services in March. Demand from EU countries outside of the 17-nation currency area was down slightly less at minus 2.2 percent.