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China remains Germany’s biggest trade partner in 2022

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing in a controversial trip in November./AFP
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Feb 17, 2023 - 04:20 AM

FRANKFURT, GERMANY — China was Germany’s biggest trading partner in 2022 for the seventh year in a row, figures published Thursday showed, as policymakers worry about economic over-reliance on Beijing.

Goods worth 297.9 billion euros ($318.9 billion) were exchanged between the two countries last year, up 20 percent despite the continuing impact of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the federal statistics agency Destatis.

Germany’s trade deficit with China — the difference between the larger value of imports and smaller exports — hit 84.3 billion euros, the largest figure since the statistics body’s records began in 1950.

Imports from China rose to 191.1 billion euros in 2022, an increase of 33 percent on the previous year.

Meanwhile, the value of exports largely stagnated, increasing just three percent in 2022 to 106.8 billion euros.

The meagre figure saw China slip two places to fourth in the ranking of export destinations for German goods.

Fears have been growing in Germany about an over-reliance on China against the backdrop of tensions between the West and Beijing over its ties with Russia and human rights issues.

“Germany urgently needs a strategy for more diversification” away from China to secure supply of key raw materials and goods, particularly electronics, the German economic think tank IfW Kiel said in a report published Wednesday.

The United States, Germany’s second most important trading partner overall, was the number one destination for items “made in Germany”, sucking up 156 billion euros worth of imports.

Overall, Germany’s trade surplus was at its lowest level since 2000 in 2022. The important indicator for the traditional export powerhouse fell to 79.7 billion euros on a year due to the rising cost of energy imports, according to Destatis.

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