UK becomes top German trade partner

Ben Southwood
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THE UK has leapfrogged France to become Germany’s top trading partner, according to data highlighted yesterday by a central banking group.

Trade between Germany and the UK totalled €153bn (£129bn) in the first nine months of 2012, the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum said in a note, according to data from the Bundesbank. This puts the UK ahead of France and the US – both on €150bn – the Netherlands on €146bn and China, with €115bn of bilateral trade. Author David Marsh said this headline shift underlined a broader movement of German economic interests away from its partners in the Eurozone, and towards countries outside the currency union.

“German companies have rebalanced their relationships in favour of three diverse groups of countries beyond the euro bloc: the US, faster-growing non-euro European countries and emerging market economies,” he said.

Exports to Germany from the UK were up 20 per cent between January and September of 2012 compared to a year earlier, with car parts and medical equipment topping the list of tradeable goods. In total Germany did only 37 per cent of its trade with the 16 other countries that use the euro, versus 45 to 46 per cent in 1999 when the currency was created. Given trends in global growth, the note suggests that Germany is likely to carry out a lower and lower proportion of its trade with fellow bloc members, and more with emerging economies in China, India and Brazil.