U.S. Replaces China as Germany's Largest Trading Partner

tendata blogTrade Trends News

ten data blog17-05-2024

The United States replaced China as Germany's most important trading partner in the first quarter of this year.

Between January and March, Germany's trade with the US (exports and imports combined) totaled 63 billion euros ($68 billion), while China's trade amounted to just under 60 billion euros, the data showed.

In 2023, China became Germany's largest trading partner for the eighth consecutive year, with a trade volume of €253 billion, albeit only a few hundred million euros ahead of the United States

Explaining the change in the first quarter, Commerzbank economist Vincent Stamer said, “German exports to the United States increased further due to the strong U.S. economy, while both exports and imports to China declined.”

Structural reasons were also a factor, he said. “China has moved up the value chain ladder and is increasingly producing more complex goods on its own, which used to be imported from Germany,” Starmer said. “In addition, German companies are increasingly producing locally rather than exporting goods from Germany to China.”

Germany has expressed a desire to reduce investment in China, citing political differences and accusing Beijing of “unfair practices” in a China strategy statement first released last year. But Berlin has been vague on policy measures to reduce its dependence.

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Germany's imports of goods from China fell nearly 12 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, while exports of goods to China fell slightly more than 1 percent, said Juergen Matthes of the German Institute for Economic Research IW. Matthes said, “The fact that the Chinese economy is performing worse than many expected, while the U.S. economy is exceeding expectations, may be one of the reasons for this situation.”

Currently, the U.S. accounts for about 10 percent of Germany's merchandise exports. China's share has fallen to less than 6 percent, Matthes said.

He added: “As the German economic model faces clear global economic headwinds, a geopolitically motivated repositioning seems to be taking place: away from system rival China and towards transatlantic partner the US.”

But it is unclear whether this will continue.

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