BERLIN (Reuters) - German exports will shrink next year for the first time since the global financial crisis over a decade ago, the DIHK Chambers of Industry and Commerce said on Wednesday, as Europe’s largest economy struggles to eke out growth in a slowing global market.
The export-reliant economy has been hurt by a global slowdown, trade disputes caused by U.S. President Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ policies and business uncertainty linked to Britain’s planned but delayed departure from the European Union.
“For our economy, with its strong industrial core, this is a huge challenge,” DIHK President Eric Schweitzer said when presenting the association’s latest business sentiment survey of more than 28,000 managers.
DIHK said it expects Germany’s annual export growth to wither to 0.3% this year from 2.1% in 2018, adding that exports are likely to shrink by 0.5% next year.
“Since the financial crisis of 2008/2009, the DIHK has not received such pessimistic replies from the companies,” Schweitzer said. He pointed out that Germany’s average export growth rate was normally around 5.5 percent.
Due to the bleak trade outlook, the DIHK cut its 2019 gross domestic product growth forecast for the German economy to 0.4% from 0.6% previously.
It forecasts GDP growth of 0.5% for 2020, adding that the increase was mainly due to an unusual high number of working days next year.
In a further sign of economic trouble, German unemployment rose more than expected in October, separate data showed on Wednesday, suggesting that the manufacturing crisis is spilling over to the labour market and could slow consumer spending.
Data from the Federal Labour Office showed the number of people out of work increased by 6,000 to 2.287 million in seasonally adjusted terms. That compared with the Reuters consensus forecast for a rise of 2,000.
The jobless rate held steady at 5.0% - slightly above the record low of 4.9% reached earlier this year.
“The recent economic weakness is leaving its marks on the job market. But all in all, it still proves to be robust,” said Labour Office head Detlef Scheele.
Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Thomas Escritt