Exports to U.S. will compensate for weak China: German trade group

BERLIN Fri Jul 19, 2013 10:36am EDT

BERLIN (Reuters) - German exporters believe the strength of the U.S. economy will more than compensate for China's relative weakness in terms of demand for German products, the head of Germany's BGA trade association told Reuters on Friday.

BGA President Anton Boerner said he expected demand from the United States to help German exports reach his goal of a 3 percent rise this year, despite a weak first half. Exports shrank 0.3 percent on the year between January and May, the latest data from the Statistics Office shows.

"German exporters are present in all sectors in the United States," Boerner said. "When the American economy picks up steam, then we go along with it."

Data earlier this month showed exports, traditionally the backbone of the German economy, dropped a seasonally-adjusted 2.4 percent in May, far more than expected.

Shipments to the euro zone, where Germany sends 40 percent of its goods, fell 9.6 percent in May compared with the same month last year. Exports to countries outside Europe slipped 1.6 percent, which economists put down to weaker demand from China.

Analysts have steadily cut their forecasts this year for China's growth and data was consistently weaker than forecast.

China is pushing to wean the economy off a reliance on exports and investment with reforms and deregulation to encourage more consumption.

"We are well placed for export to China," Boerner said. "The services sector, which is growing in large steps, will more than compensate for the weaker momentum in China's industrial sector."

Boerner said he expected the dollar to strengthen versus the euro in the medium and long term due to the pickup in the U.S. economy. The euro would likely level out at around 1.20 to 1.15 dollars.

(Reporting by Reinhard Becker; Writing by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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