German exports tumbled 24 percent month-on-month in April to 75.7 billion euros (85.5 billion U.S. dollars), official data showed Tuesday, as Europe's top economy felt the full effects of coronavirus lockdowns worldwide.
Compared with a year earlier, exports slumped 31.1 percent in April -- "the biggest fall in a single month since foreign trade statistics began in 1950," the federal statistics authority Destatis said in a statement.
Germany's trade surplus -- widely criticized by partners and allies before the pandemic crisis as a sign of economic imbalances-- tumbled to just 3.2 billion euros in seasonally adjusted terms, the lowest since December 2000 and far short of the 17.8 billion euros reported in April 2019.
That was because imports in April fell more slowly than exports -- down 16.5 percent month-on-month to 72.2 billion euros.
Trade with fellow European Union (EU) members accounted for around half of both exports and imports in April, with exports falling slightly faster year-on-year to eurozone countries than the rest of the EU.
Among important individual partner countries, sales to China took a "comparatively moderate" hit of 12.6 percent year-on-year, Destatis noted, while exports to France fell by almost half, Italy 40 percent and the U.S. more than one-third.
Meanwhile, imports from China surged by 10 percent, with a smaller rise for American imports and France and Italy both falling back sharply.
"International trade will recover gradually as more and more economic zones around the globe take the path into the new normal," predicted Joerg Zeuner, chief economist at Union Investment.
"It will nevertheless be challenging for Germany (as) globalization has passed its peak and worldwide demand for German investment goods will lag behind global aggregate demand," Zeuner said.
"However, Germany has shown itself to be comparatively resilient place to do business in the crisis," he added.