Germany’s trade surplus has reached a record high, as exports continue to rise to new heights from Europe’s largest economy.
The figures come only two weeks after US President Donald Trump’s new trade adviser, Peter Navarro, accused the German government of manipulating its currency to “exploit” the US.
Exports rose to €1.2 trillion (£1 trillion) for the whole of 2016, while imports rose to €954bn (£812bn), according to the German Federal Office of Statistics.
The trade balance for the year reached a surplus of €252.9bn, a 3.5 per cent increase on the previous year. Meanwhile the current account surplus, which takes into account trade as well as other sources of income such as rents from other nations, reached €266bn.
Germany’s position as the powerhouse manufacturing economy in Europe is based partly on the strength of its exports to the rest of the bloc, with almost 60 per cent of exports staying within the EU, including the United Kingdom.
The euro is widely seen to benefit Germany’s manufacturers, with a lower valuation than would have been the case with the former Deutsche Mark, while having a higher value than the Greek drachma or the Italian lira would now have.
This helps German exporters by making their products relatively cheaper for the rest of the world.
However, accusations of deliberate manipulation have been strenuously denied by European and German authorities. The US Treasury has Germany on a monitoring list of currency trading, but it notes the nation only fulfills two of its three criteria for manipulation.
European Central Bank president Mario Draghi this week vehemently rejected the accusations in the EU Parliament, saying: “We are not currency manipulators.”
Kit Juckes, an analyst at Societe Generale, said: “The German trade data this morning are more grist to President Trump's currency manipulation mill.”