New data suggest Europe’s largest economy is struggling to regain traction.
German exports – which are traditionally the backbone of the country’s economy – fell in May by the most since late 2009.
They were down by a seasonally adjusted 2.4 percent .
Shipments to the eurozone, where Germany sends 40 percent of its goods, fell 9.6 percent compared with May last year.
Exports to countries outside Europe slipped 1.6 percent, with the slowdown in China a major factor.
At the same time industrial output tumbled one percent in May, the biggest fall since last October.
Factories produced fewer goods and there was a slowdown in the construction industry.
Economists blamed that partly on the high number of public holidays in May and cold weather.
The economy ministry said the overall trend remained positive and improving imports did point to robust domestic demand in Germany.
The 1.7 percent rise in imports will be welcome news for the Berlin government as it shows Germans are buying more goods from abroad.
The rise in imports also offers hope to struggling eurozone states seeking to export their way out of their downturns.