The Federal Statistical Office said Friday that exports were 0.1% lower than in May in seasonally adjusted terms, following a steep 3.2% drop in April and a partial 1.3% recovery in May. Imports rose 0.5% on the month. The monthly export and import data were both in line with economists' expectations.
Second-quarter gross domestic product figures are due Aug. 14. Germany's economy is believed to have turned in a feeble performance in the April-June period after returning to growth in the winter, a forecast bolstered by recent data. Economists at UniCredit bank predict a 0.1% decline in GDP compared with the previous quarter.
Foreign trade is traditionally a mainstay of the German economy, although domestic demand has played an increasing role in recent years. German exports face uncertainty caused by deepening tensions between the U.S. and China, ongoing issues between the U.S. and Europe and the prospect of Britain's exit from the European Union in the fall.
Over the first half of the year, German exports — which totaled 666.1 billion euros ($746.2 billion) — were 0.5% higher than a year earlier. Exports to other eurozone countries rose 0.5%, those to EU countries outside the eurozone dropped 1.5% and exports to non-EU countries rose 1.7%. At the same time, overall imports rose 3%.
Germany's exporters association, BGA, said the first-half export performance trailed behind even its "modest" expectations. Exporters "so far were able to cushion the many risks well, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that they will not succeed in this over the whole year," said the group's chairman, Holger Bingmann. "The signs of a worldwide economic downswing are simply too big, and trade conflicts and economic nationalism that is spreading ever wider weigh too heavily."