It wasn't a surprise, but it happened sooner than expected: New figures confirm that China overtook Germany in 2009 as the world's largest exporter
Official data released from Germany on Tuesday (9 February) confirmed that China has stripped Europe's largest economy of its top exporter title.
Data released by the German Federal Statistics Office showed the country's exports fell by 18.4 percent in 2009 when compared to the previous year, hitting a dollar equivalent of $1.121 trillion. China's exports for 2009 totaled $1.202 trillion.
Despite the drop, which represents the greatest year-on-year decline for Germany since 1950, the news of China's takeover was not greeted with great alarm by German economists.
"This is something that was expected. Everyone agrees that China's currency is undervalued, but still it was only a matter of time," Gernot Nerb, head of the industry department with the Ifo Institute for Economic Research, Munich, told this website.
The official figures also showed a strong export recovery in the fourth quarter of the year, helping to pull Germany out of its recession and providing a silver lining to the more gloomy annual data.
With more than 60 percent of Germany's exports going to other EU countries, concerns have been raised that the bloc's forecast low rates of growth in the coming years could prose a problem for Germany's export model.
"There is some concern but we are mainly exporting investment goods, and you can not postpone investment for ever," said Mr Nerb, conceding that investment levels will probably not pick up before 2011-12 however.
A breakdown of the German figures shows exports to the EU were down 19.1 percent year-on-year, with sales to faster-growing regions of Asia and South America faring little better and falling 17.1 percent.