German, French trade figures hit hard by falling exports

By Simon Morgan, AFP

FRANKFURT, Germany–The economic skies above the eurozone darkened again on Thursday as data showed a sharp drop in exports from its two biggest economies, Germany and France. German exports contracted by a massive 5.8 percent in August — the steepest drop since January 2009 — causing the trade surplus to shrink to 17.5 billion euros. In neighboring France, exports dropped by 1.3 percent, pushing the trade deficit up to 5.8 billion euros, the highest figure since January. France’s big trade deficit is worsening with the United States and with Asia, notably because of a decline in Airbus deliveries.

The German statistics office Destatis explained that the late timing of the summer holidays — in August instead of in July — had weighed on economic activity.