Trade with China brings in more money for Germany than with other countries: in 2022, exports to the country increased by 3.1 percent, and imports reached a record level. Nevertheless, experts believe that the German economy is less dependent than the figures suggest.

China was Germany’s most important trading partner again last year. Foreign trade with the People’s Republic amounted to almost 298 billion euros, as reported by the Federal Statistical Office. Imports from China therefore increased many times more than German exports. Imports from China rose by 33.6 percent compared to the previous year to a new high of 191.1 billion euros. Exports to China, on the other hand, increased by just 3.1 percent to 106.8 billion euros.

“This results in a record trade deficit of 84.3 billion euros,” the statisticians explained. In addition to the sharp rise in costs for energy imports, this development is largely responsible for the fact that the German economy recorded the lowest export surplus in more than 20 years in 2022. According to a study by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IFW) presented on Wednesday, however, Germany is economically much less dependent on China than the trade statistics suggest.

According to the IFW analyses, more than 80 percent of the production in Germany comes from German own work, while only 0.6 percent of the direct inputs for German products come from China. Accordingly, there is only a strong dependency on individual products and raw materials such as laptops and certain rare earths – in these cases, however, this is quite critical, the researchers explained.

The second most important trading partner and at the same time the most important buyer of German products was the USA with a trading volume of 247.8 billion euros. Here, exports and imports increased to a comparable extent. Germany generated an export surplus of 64.3 billion euros. The Netherlands followed in third place with a trade volume of 233.6 billion euros, with imports from the neighboring country slightly exceeding exports.

The Netherlands were the third most important buyer of German products. In second place behind the USA was France with imports from Germany worth 116.1 billion euros. Great Britain continued to lose importance in the second year after leaving the EU. In 2017, a year after the Brexit referendum, the British were still Germany’s fifth most important trading partner. In 2022 they were eleventh behind the Czech Republic.