Tuesday, August 2, 2011

German Exports

Italian bond yields are flashing red again. In thinking about the long term future of the Eurozone, much obviously depends on the willingness of Germany to accept changes in the structure of the Euro such that the situation will work better for other countries than it does at present. Accordingly, it's helpful to think about where Germany's actual interests lie.

Clearly, as a major exporter, its interests are strongly bound up with who is buying its exports and what they are buying.  I found some statistics on this at the United Nations International Merchandise Trade Statistics website.  Firstly, here is what Germany is mainly exporting:

You can see that Germany is exporting a mix of high-end and sophisticated manufactured goods (Mercedes and Porsches, pharmaceuticals, etc).  The current top customers are:

These data are in millions of $US. You can see that Italy is up there with about 6% of the total, and other Eurozone countries are important too - France, Netherlands, Austria, etc.  So there's no question that worsening economic weakness on the eurozone periphery will have some short term impact on German exports.

However, Germany also has a lot of diversity in where it exports - with the US, the UK, and China also showing up as major destinations outside the Eurozone.  In the longer term, it appears to me that Germany is well positioned to cope with a world in which Asia and the Middle East become more and more important, and in which parts of Europe and the US are in relative decline.  Wherever in the world is succeeding, that place can probably be counted on to want to express the fact with some luxury imports from Germany.

So there is probably a limit to how much the Germans feel they really need the Italians or the Spanish.


Kostas Kalevras said...

Stuart i think you will find the following rather helpful as well: http://www.destatis.de/jetspeed/portal/cms/Sites/destatis/Internet/EN/Navigation/Statistics/Aussenhandel/Handelspartner/Handelspartner.psml

I think that we should focus more on surplus trading partners than total trade by itself. In this context PIIGS represent a large share of Germany's foreign surplus trade, especially if you don't take common trade partners like USA and France into account.

Alexander Ac said...

Eurozone is going to go brakeupt...



Nick said...

Germany's balance of trade is benefitting from the uncertainty, as it bring the value of the Euro down. If the PIIGS are expelled from the currency union, the value of the Euro would almost certainly increase, hurting their balance of trade with the likes of China.