China has temporarily lost its place as Germany’s most important trading partner. As in the third and fourth quarters of 2023, the USA was ahead in the first quarter of the current year.

Because Germany imported significantly fewer goods from China, the People’s Republic only ranked second in the list of the most important partner countries in German foreign trade in the period from January to March 2024, according to the Federal Statistical Office.

According to the Wiesbaden authority, imports from China to Germany fell by 11.7 percent to 36 billion euros compared to the same quarter last year. The value of goods exported from Germany to China fell by 1.1 percent to 24 billion euros. The foreign trade volume with China, amounting to 60 billion euros, was lower in the quarter than the trade volume with the United States, which totaled 63.2 billion euros.

In 2023 as a whole, China is still just ahead of the USA

In 2023 as a whole, China narrowly maintained its top spot. However, at 253.1 billion euros, the volume of imports and exports was only a good 0.7 billion euros higher than the trade in goods with the USA (252.3 billion). A year earlier the difference was 50.1 billion euros.

Experts do not rule out that China could lose its position as Germany’s most important trading partner to the USA this year after eight years in a row. The federally owned German foreign trade company Germany Trade and Invest (GTAI) recently justified this in a study primarily with China’s current economic weakness: “The real estate crisis, geopolitical risks in relation to the USA and weak industrial investments contribute to this.” German companies also tried to avoid relying on China for procurement.

By far most imports “Made in China”

However, with a share of 10.9 percent of all imports, China was by far Germany’s most important supplier of goods in the first quarter of 2024. Overall, Germany imported goods worth a total of 331.2 billion euros in the three months. The second most imports came from the Netherlands (7.6 percent of all imports), followed by the USA (7.0 percent).

In terms of value, for example, 85.4 percent of the photovoltaic systems imported into Germany came from China in the first quarter, as did 86.3 percent of portable computers, 60.5 percent of smartphones and 45.4 percent of lithium-ion batteries. Companies from Germany mainly delivered cars and car parts as well as machines to China.