Germany was the world's leading exporter for the fifth year running in 2007, staving off a challenge from fast-growing China despite the impact of a strong Euro on its competitiveness. German exports reached 969 billion Euros, 1.4 trillion US dollars in 2007, up 8.5% from 2006, according to Germany's Federal Statistics Office in Weisbaden.
Chinese exports totaled 1.37 trillion US dollars, according to the Chinese Trade ministry's internet site. But the World Trade Organisation has forecasted that at the current rate of expansion China would surpass Germany in 2009. Among German exports, automobiles lead the way with 4.3 million units sold abroad under renowned nameplates such as Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes and the local brands of Ford and General Motors Opel. Another Made in Germany fortress is tools, which racked up foreign sales of €138 billion last year. German machines used to make other machines were particularly sought after in Eastern Europe and oil-exporting countries. The chemical industry is another stronghold of German manufacturing. "In the long term Ã¢€Â¦ more than 1.3 billion Chinese will outperform 82 million Germans in terms of exports" UniCredit economist Alexander Koch wrote in a research note. "But this is nothing to worry about." It was more important for Germany that foreign trade continued to provide a solid pillar for economic growth, regardless of its global position as No.1, he said. "The expansion in the export sector should also continue in 2008 - noticeably softer than in previous years, but still at a solid pace," Mr Koch said. In terms of the trade surplus Germany was also a success story with an increase of €40 billion last year to €199 billion (288 billion US dollars and 230 billion in 2006). That compared with a chronic US trade deficit of 63.1 billion US dollar in November, and the record French deficit of €39 billion, which was announced last week. EU members remained Germany's main trade partners, (900 billion US dollars and up 11.1% over 2006) helping to partly offset the impact of the rise of the Euro against other major currencies. Exports outside the Euro area increased 4.1% to 494 billion US dollars. Overall imports to Germany last year increased 6%. Separate figures showed that industrial output in Germany rose 0.8% in December from November, much lower than expected, official figures showed.