Trade with China: Imports to Germany are increasing, exports are falling

In recent months, there have often been reports of a disentanglement of economic relations with China or a reduction in dependencies. So far, however, nothing has been seen. Although foreign trade fell by 10.5 percent in the first quarter compared to the first three months of the previous year, China remains Germany’s most important trading partner. There are indications that Chinese companies are increasingly expanding into Europe.

One trend is unmistakable: exports to China are falling while imports from there are rising. The import surplus reached 16.5 billion euros in the first quarter, as reported by the Federal Statistical Office. Overall, goods worth 40.6 billion euros were imported from China to Germany, which was almost 10 percent less than in the same quarter of the previous year.

The trend is particularly evident in the car market. In the first quarter of 2023, mainly passenger cars and components worth 6.3 billion euros were exported from Germany to China – a decrease of 24 percent. 28 percent of the electric cars imported into Germany came from China. In the same quarter of the previous year, the share was just under 8 percent. China is also one of the most important suppliers of raw materials. In the case of the rare earth metals used in many key technologies such as electromobility or wind power, 92 percent of imports in the first quarter of 2023 came from China. In the same period last year, that figure was 98 percent.

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