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Trade

Weak December unable to mar record German export year

Despite the recession in its main European markets, Germany last year exported more goods and services than ever before. The trade surplus surged to the second highest level in Germany's post-war history.

In 2012, exports from Europe's biggest economy rose 3.4 percent from the previous year to reach a total volume of 1.097 trillion euros ($1470 trillion), according to latest data released by the German Federal Statistics Office (Destatis) on Friday.

Demand for German goods and services was especially strong in countries outside of the European Union to which exports grew by 3.3 percent, reaching a volume of 213 billion euros.

This helped German exporters offset a drop in deliveries to the crisis-hit eurozone by 2.1 percent, and the European Union as a whole by 0.3 percent. However, the 27-nation EU had remained Germany's biggest export market, taking in goods worth 625 billion euros in 2012, Destatis said.

As imports to Germany grew less significantly in 2012, at a rate of just 0.7 percent, the country's trade surplus widened to 188 billion euros, which was the second biggest gap between exports and imports since trade records were first taken in 1950.

Analysts polled by Reuters news agency, said weaker export growth of just 0.3 percent between November and December last year was only a brief interruption in the general trend which was pointing in an upward direction for 2013.

"Key global economic indicators have brightened up significantly, pointing towards further improving exports," Andreas Scheuerle, economist with DEKABANK, told the news agency.

And Citigroup analyst Jürgen Michels told Reuters that he expects the boost for exports to come from economic recovery in the United States and China rather than a pick up in eurozone growth.

In addition, Christian Schulz from Berenberg Bank noted that Germany has made progress in reducing its trade imbalances with its eurozone partners, which are said to have partly contributed to the debt crisis in the 17-nation currency area. At the moment, Germany would enjoy the best of both worlds he said as the country would take in more goods from its eurozone partners, while selling more to the rest of the world.

uhe/dr (Reuters, dpa)