German exports unexpectedly fell one percent in January compared with December.
The figure – which is adjusted for seasonal variations and a difference in the numbers of working days – is a slight setback for the key sector of Europe’s largest economy.
The trade surplus fell to 11.8 billion euros in January.
But economists are upbeat saying exports should remain a reliable source for German economic growth.
Carsten Brzeski from ING said: “Demand from other euro zone countries is stronger than expected, despite fiscal austerity, and the strengthening US economy should also bring a welcome boost to German exports.”
Germany – which is also enjoying rising demand from developing countries for its goods – has recovered faster than expected from a recession in 2009 and by the fourth quarter of last year it was growing four percent year-on-year.
Germans’ appetite for goods from abroad grew more than expected in the month, the trade data showed, with imports rising 2.3 percent from a month earlier.
Should imports continue to grow, it could bring a welcome boost to other countries in the euro zone, who have complained Berlin is not doing enough to help domestic consumption, which would boost their exports to Germany.