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Trade

Germany: Europe soon no longer No. 1 trade area

Germany's leading foreign trade organization has questioned any swift eurozone recovery. Presenting an outlook in Berlin, the BGA announced that overseas markets would gain in importance for export-oriented Germany.

Containerterminal im Hamburger Hafen bei Sonnenuntergang © Thorsten Schier #18784375

Symbolbild Europa Wirtschaft Export

The Federation of German Wholesale, Foreign Trade and Services (BGA) announced Monday that foreign trade activities had trod water in the first two months of the year, with the recovery of the global economy slower than expected.

BGA President Anton Börner told reporters in Berlin German exports would nominally grow by 3 percent this year to 1.13 trillion euros ($1.5 trillion) and imports would rise by just 1 percent to 918.2 billion euros. He added the country's share in global trade would slightly decrease, though, as China and the US were likely to post more impressive growth figures.

Can exports rescue the Italian economy?

Börner said the protracted eurozone debt crisis had a devastating impact on demand for German goods and services. "I'm quite pessimistic in respect to the ability of the crisis-stricken nations to follow through reforms," the BGA chief commented. "The situation in Italy seems particularly worrisome, because the decisive forces in that country have shown little interest in a comprehensive structural reform."

Lashing out at policy makers

According to the BGA, Europe will remain Germany's most important export market in the medium term. But it sees Asia, Latin America, the Arab world, western Africa and the US as the region providing the biggest impetus in the years ahead, meaning that in 12 years from now overseas markets will be more crucial for German exporters than all fellow European countries combined.

Börner urged massive investments in ensuring the German economy's future competitiveness. "Instead of racking our brains about how to improve our infrastructure and education system, we're busy debating same-sex marriages, horsemeat scandals and a female quota for boardrooms," he quipped.

"Our universities and schools are chronically underfinanced, and our highways are nothing but an endless series of road works," Börner argued. "What's the point of marveling at our lightning-fast virtual world, if our export goods can only be moved in a stop-go manner?" the BGA chief asked only months away from a general election in the country.

hg/dr (dpa, Reuters)

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