German GDP grew 0.6% in 2019, weakest rate since 2013

BERLIN (Reuters) - The German economy grew by 0.6% in 2019, the weakest expansion rate since 2013 and a marked cooling from the previous year, a preliminary estimate from the Federal Statistics Office showed on Wednesday.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected growth in gross domestic product (GDP) of 0.6% last year after an expansion rate of 1.5% in 2018.

"This means that the German economy grew the tenth year in a row. This is the longest growth period since German reunification," statistics official Albert Braakmann said.

The office said the budget surplus of the public sector, including federal states, municipalities and social security systems, fell to 49.8 billion euros ($55.4 billion) or 1.5% of GDP after 62.4 billion euros or 1.9% in the previous year.

Exports edged up by 0.9% last year after an 2.1% increase in 2018 while imports rose by 1.9% following a 3.6% jump, the office added. This suggests that net trade had a negative impact on overall economic growth last year.

Germany's export-dependent manufacturers are contending with sluggish foreign demand in light of a slowing world economy and uncertainty linked to trade disputes and Britain's decision to leave the European Union.

The automobile sector is also struggling to adjust to stricter emissions regulation and a shift to electric vehicles.

(Reporting by Michael Nienaber and Thomas Seythal)

01/15/2020 9:23

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