Last year, the German export surplus fell to its lowest level in more than 20 years.

Goods worth around 1.564 trillion euros were exported, and imports were worth around 1.488 trillion euros, as the Federal Statistical Office announced on Thursday in Wiesbaden.

This resulted in an export surplus of 76 billion euros: That was the lowest value since 2000.

The export surplus fell in 2022 for the fifth year in a row.

In 2021, the value of exports exceeded that of imports by 175.3 billion euros.

In a comparison of 2021 and 2022, the export surplus was thus more than halved.

Consequences of the Russian attack

According to the statistics office, the background to this development was in particular the high cost of importing energy due to the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine.

In order to reduce energy imports from Russia as quickly and largely as possible, Germany had to cover its needs from other suppliers at short notice last year, which was sometimes very expensive.

The total value of imports reportedly increased by 24.3 percent compared to 2021.

In contrast, the value of exports increased by only 14.3 percent.

The decline is a warning sign for the Federation of German Industries (BDI).

In addition, the export balance is less good than it seems.

Adjusted for prices, German exports developed two percentage points weaker than global trade last year.

"The export country Germany lost world market share and competitiveness last year," said BDI General Manager Tanja Gönner.

She called for more EU free trade agreements.

decrease at the end of the year

In December, German exports fell significantly in a weak global economic environment.

Exports shrank by 6.3 percent compared to the previous month.

Economists surveyed had only expected a minus of 3.3 percent.

In December, exports to the EU countries fell by 4.0 percent compared to the previous month and imports from these countries by 4.8 percent.

Compared to November, exports to countries outside the EU decreased by 9.1 percent and imports from there by 7.4 percent.

At the end of the year, most German exports went to the USA.

However, 10.0 percent fewer goods were exported there than in November.

Exports to the United States thus fell to a value of 12.3 billion euros.

Exports to China fell by 14.2 percent to 7.6 billion euros, exports to Great Britain fell by 24.3 percent to 5.6 billion euros.

The federal government expects a difficult year for German exporters.

Exports are likely to grow by just 2.2 percent in 2023, according to the annual economic report.

The "subdued development of the global economy" is initially dampening the prospects of German exporters on the international sales markets.