Coronavirus poses risk for German trade in coming months: finance ministry

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s trade outlook remains clouded by weaker global demand and the coronavirus epidemic adds another risk to exporters in Europe’s largest economy, the finance ministry said on Friday.

Germany’s export-dependent economy stagnated in the fourth quarter as both industrial orders and output fell sharply in December, holding back overall growth in the wider euro zone.

In its monthly report, the finance ministry cited weak demand from abroad as a reason for the muted trade outlook. “Possible economic effects of the coronavirus also pose a risk to foreign trade developments in the coming months,” it added.

The coronavirus epidemic had disrupted economic growth in China and a further spread to other countries could derail a projected recovery of the global economy in 2020.

China is Germany’s biggest trading partner, with manufacturers highly dependent on Chinese supply chains as well as Chinese demand for ‘Made in Germany’ goods.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz told Reuters on Wednesday that there were no signs of the economy entering a recession. He also added that Berlin was sticking to its GDP growth forecast of 1.1% this year despite the coronavirus epidemic.

Reporting by Michael Nienaber; editing by Thomas Seythal