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What does Germany export

Updated on 28 Dec 2023
3 min read
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Largest economy in the European Union

As the European Union’s largest economy, Germany is responsible for around one-fifth of the European bloc’s overall GDP. For nearly a decade now, it has been enjoying economic growth. But it seems the tide may just be turning.

Germany very narrowly avoided a recession after registering zero growth in the final quarter of 2018. This followed a 0.2% contraction in Q3. Experts have attributed this to a fall in overseas demand, which affected manufacturing output and as a result, exports.

Overall, its economy recorded a 1.4% overall growth in 2018, a decrease from 2.2% the year before. The country is now facing further slowdowns that are threatening growth as Berlin revises its 2019 economic outlook to 1.0% from an earlier estimate of 1.8%.

“If you look at Germany across 2018 we’ve seen a pretty broad-based slowdown in growth. We’ve seen household consumption slow, we’ve seen business investment slow and we’ve seen export growth slow. What’s particularly worrying is that the early signs for 2019 suggest that a strong rebound is unlikely.”

Jack Allen, senior Europe economist at Capital Economics

World’s largest exporters of cars

As the fourth largest economy in the world, Germany also has a significant economic influence on the world stage.

This holds particularly true for the automobile industry, with five out of the ten most valuable car brands calling Germany home. That said, it should come as no surprise then that Germany is the world’s top exporter of cars.

In fact, according to the Observatory of Economic Complex, around 21%, or one of every five cars being shipped around the world, is exported from Germany. The second-largest car exporter is Japan with 14%, around two-thirds of the number of automobiles exported by Germany.

Of Germany’s automobile exports, 58% are exported to other European countries. Asia and North America receive 21% and 16% respectively.

And with the US now threatening tariffs of up to 25% on imported automobiles and automobile parts from the EU, Germany’s automotive industry has reason to worry. Excluding the EU, the US is the largest importing country of German vehicles.

Here’s a breakdown of the top five destinations of Germany’s car exports.

  • United States (14%)
  • United Kingdom (13%)
  • China (8.6%)
  • Italy (6.6%)
  • France (6.3%)

Germany’s largest trading partners

Germany’s exports in 2017 totalled a value of $1.33 trillion, marking an increase from $1.25 trillion in 2016. Of these exports, two-thirds are to countries within Europe.

On a country-basis, Germany’s top export destinations are the US, France, China, UK, and the Netherlands. In total, these five countries receive over one-third of the total exported German goods.

Here’s an infographic to illustrate the breakdown of German exports and its top export destinations:

inforgraphic to illustrate the breakdown of German exports

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