Germany’s Chambers of Commerce cut its 2014 estimate for exports from Europe’s biggest economy due to the Ukraine crisis, but said even its lower forecast would not be achievable if the standoff between Russia and the West worsened.
The DIHK said German shipments abroad would increase by a maximum of 3.5 percent this year. In May it had forecast growth of 4.0 percent but it said tensions in Ukraine and weaker growth in emerging markets like Turkey, South Africa, India, Brazil and Indonesia meant this was not possible.
“We’re on a dangerous path,” said DIHK foreign trade head Volker Treier.
The European Union has imposed sanctions on the Russian finance, energy and defence sectors in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its failure to rein in pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. Moscow denies arming the rebels and has hit back by banning imports of Western foods.
“The sanctions and Russia’s countermeasures are continuing to affect German exports. Alongside the direct negative impact, there will be an economic slowdown in other European countries which will then buy fewer German products,” Treier said.
He said exporters would make around 11 billion euros less in revenues than previously forecast, putting some 100,000 jobs in Germany at risk. The DIHK said exports, which traditionally propel the German economy, would therefore fail to make a contribution to growth this year.
Data published on Thursday showed weak foreign trade, combined with lower construction investment, drove a 0.2 percent decline in German gross domestic product (GDP) between April and June. Given tit-for-tat sanctions between Europe and Russia, the third-quarter outlook is not rosy either.
Shipments to Russia, which fell 15 percent in the first five months of the year, make up only 3.3 percent of total German exports. But the standoff has increased uncertainty among German exporters, of which about 10 percent send goods to Russia.
The DIHK said exports could, however, grow by around 5 percent next year as long as the crisis with Russia over Ukraine eases.
But even that growth would be well below the average of around 6 percent since Germany reunified in 1990. The economy in France, Germany’s biggest export market, remains weak, while Italy has slipped back into recession.
The DIHK also cut its forecast for economic growth in 2014 to 1.5 percent from its previous estimate of 2.0 percent in February. (Reuters)