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German exports down nearly a quarter in April as virus hits

June 9, 2020 GMT
FILE - In this Monday, April 27, 2020. file photo, an employee walks past vehicles in production with a face mask in the VW plant in Wolfsburg, Germany. Volkswagen is gradually launch the production at important plants after the corona lockdown. (Swen Pfoertner/dpa via AP)
FILE - In this Monday, April 27, 2020. file photo, an employee walks past vehicles in production with a face mask in the VW plant in Wolfsburg, Germany. Volkswagen is gradually launch the production at important plants after the corona lockdown. (Swen Pfoertner/dpa via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — German exports plunged by nearly a quarter in April compared with the previous month as coronavirus shutdowns dragged down demand, official data showed Tuesday.

The figures from the Federal Statistical Office followed data showing big drops in factory orders and industrial production in Europe’s biggest economy in April, underlining expectations of a sharp economic contraction in the second quarter.

Exports dropped 24% in April, following an 11.7% decline in March — the month when European countries, including Germany, started imposing lockdowns.

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In year-on-year terms, exports dropped 31.1% in April, the biggest drop since records began in 1950. There were sharp drops in exports to France, Italy and the U.S. - 48.3%, 40.1% and 35.8% respectively. Exports to China, however, were down a comparatively modest 12.6%.

German imports dropped 16.5% in April compared with the previous month, following a 5% drop in March. In year-on-year terms, there was a 21.6% decline in April.

Germany’s lockdown was less severe than those imposed in Italy, Spain and France and it never ordered factories closed, but companies did largely stop production in some areas — such as the automaking sector — and supply chains were disrupted.

Germany started easing restrictions on public life on April 20 and the process has gathered pace since. However, the German economy went into a recession in the first quarter, when it shrank by 2.2%, and that is expected to deepen in the current quarter.

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Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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