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German exports edge up in December on robust China trade

FILE PHOTO: Cars intended for export wait at the port for loading, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Bremerhaven, Germany, April 24, 2020. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

BERLIN (Reuters) - German exports rose in December as solid trade with China and the United States helped Europe’s largest economy as it struggles to grow under the restrictions of a lockdown aimed at suppressing the COVID-19 case load.

Seasonally adjusted exports edged up 0.1% on the month after an increase of 2.3% in November, the Federal Statistics Office said on Tuesday. Imports fell 0.1% after an increase of 5.4% in the prior month.

The trade surplus expanded to 16.1 billion euros.

On the year, exports to China increased by 11.6%. Those to the United States rose by 8.4%, the Office said. Exports to the United Kingdom decreased by 3.3% in December and imports from the United Kingdom fell by 11.4 %.

Official data released on Monday showed Germany’s industrial sector avoided a contraction in December despite coronavirus lockdowns at home and abroad as strong demand from China helped export-oriented manufacturers weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

The German government last month slashed its GDP growth forecast to 3% this year, a sharp revision from last autumn’s estimate of 4.4%. This means the economy probably won’t reach its pre-pandemic level before mid-2022.

Once a role model for fighting the pandemic, Germany has struggled with a second wave. Chancellor Angela Merkel and state leaders are due to review lockdown measures on Wednesday. Bavaria’s premier said on Sunday it was too soon to lift restrictions.

Germany suffered its second-biggest economic plunge in post-war history last year.

Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Kirsti Knolle and Maria Sheahan