German trade surplus down in February

BERLIN (AP) — Germany's trade surplus narrowed in February as exports declined but imports picked up slightly amid signs that growth in Europe's biggest economy is accelerating.

The Federal Statistical Office said Wednesday German exports were 1.3 percent lower than in January, while imports were up 0.4 percent. As a result, the trade surplus declined to 15.7 billion euros ($21.6 billion) from 17.2 billion euros.

Germany has drawn criticism for relying too much on exports and not importing enough to boost other European economies. However, it barely has a trade surplus with the rest of the 18-nation eurozone, while it has a large surplus with countries outside the European Union.

Chancellor Angela Merkel told lawmakers Wednesday Germany's exports are healthy "but the domestic economy is contributing more to growth than in past years."

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