China/Germany now Trading Partners

China Becomes Germany’s Leading Trading Partner
Home>China Becomes Germany’s Leading Trading Partner

China Becomes Germany’s Leading Trading Partner


By Andrea Thomas

BERLIN–China upstaged the U.S. and France to become Germany’s leading trading partner for the first time last year, highlighting the broad footprint of Germany’s export-oriented economy–a feature that has helped it weather external shocks in the past.

The move could be a harbinger of the shift to Asia some German politicians and business leaders have called for in case U.S. President Donald Trump delivers on his protectionist campaign pledges.

Sales generated from exports to and imports from China reached EUR169.9 billion ($179.72 billion) last year, putting the Asian giant ahead of Germany’s longtime biggest trading partner France. Trade with China also overtook trade with the U.S., which was Germany’s number one trade partner a year earlier, according to data released on Friday.

“The figures show that Germany is a successful export nation which is conducting close trade relations with many countries,” the economics ministry said.

The fact that Germany’s trade relations aren’t dominated by any single region has helped it overcome economic shocks in the past. Dwindling trade with its eurozone neighbors during the region’s debt crisis, for instance, was offset by exports to the U.S. and to emerging markets.

The drop in U.S. exports to Germany that underpinned the country’s ranking fall in the list of Germany’s main trade partners wasn’t related to Mr. Trump’s election, Germany’s BGA export trade group said. But it could become a trend if the president made good on his threat to erect new trade barriers, causing others to do the same.

“Amid protectionist plans of the new U.S. president, it can be expected that trade relations between Germany and China will be further expanded in the future,” BGA President Anton Börner said.

The German government has said it would look to strengthen trade ties with Asia should the U.S. turn its back on free trade. And in a widely noted speech at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping cast himself as a defender of trade and globalization.


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