BERLIN, Dec 29 (Reuters) – German exporters are showing modest hopes for next year, saying an expected outbreak in China will create problems and higher interest rates will lead customers in the United States to exercise caution, the Federation of German Wholesale and Foreign Trade (BGA) said on Thursday.
The United States and China are Germany’s most important trading partners.
“There won’t be a slump in exports in 2023, but we can’t expect a big uptick either,” BGA chairman Dirk Jandura told Reuters.
“It would already be a success if we achieve a ‘black zero’ in real terms,” he added, referring to zero or slightly positive growth.
Since Beijing abandoned its “zero COVID” policy in early December, the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been spreading largely unchecked in China, a country with a population of 1.4 billion.
This development raises fears in the immediate future of a resurgence of sick employees in the weeks and months to come in China, even if a strong rebound in the economy is not excluded during the course of the year.
“We are also worried about the United States,” said Dirk Jandura. “We have a stronger euro again due to ECB (European Central Bank) interest rate hikes. This is not going to boost exports,” he added.
According to the president of the BGA, the rise in interest rates is already having an impact in the United States, particularly in the construction sector.
To curb persistent inflation, the European Central Bank and the US Federal Reserve (Fed) have raised interest rates at an extremely rapid pace, and both central banks are planning further hikes next year.
The order books of German exporters, however, remain well filled, the last orders could not be honored due to supply shortages, said Dirk Jandura. According to him, the expected alleviation of supply bottlenecks should also allow exporters to benefit from a catch-up effect.
The BGA anticipates a double-digit percentage increase in German exports this year, mainly due to higher prices.
Last year, exports grew by 14% and imports by 17%.
(Report Rene Wagner, written by Kirsti Knolle, French version Claude Chendjou, edited by Sophie Louet)