Imports into Germany jumped more than expected in January – up 3.0 percent on the previous month.
It was a further sign of the momentum in Europe’s biggest economy and suggests that Germany’s robust domestic demand is helping to re-balance its traditionally export-driven economy.
Exports were also surprisingly strong having increased by 2.7 percent month-on-month with higher demand for ‘Made in Germany’ goods from emerging markets such as China, Brazil, Russia and India.
Last year German exports rose 1.2 percent from 2015 while imports edged up 0.6 percent.
The figures, released by the Federal Statistics Office, also showed the wider current account surplus fell sharply on the month.
The seasonally adjusted trade surplus edged up to 18.5 billion euros ($19.6 billion) from 18.3 billion euros in December.
The wider current account surplus plunged to 12.8 billion euros after a revised 24.8 billion euros in December, the data showed.
The European Commission and the International Monetary Fund have repeatedly urged Germany to take advantage of record-low borrowing costs and increase investment as a measure to reduce the country’s large trade and current account surpluses.
The United States last year flagged concerns over economic policies in Germany and put Europe’s biggest economy on a new monitoring list together with other countries such as China and Japan, mostly due to their large surpluses.
US President Donald Trump’s trade adviser on Monday described the US trade deficit with Germany as “one of the most difficult” issues.
Peter Navarro called for bilateral discussions to reduce it outside of European Union restrictions. His comments followed his complaints that Germany was exploiting a weak euro to gain a trade advantage.
The criticism was firmly rejected by Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Tuesday who said Germany’s trade surplus was the result of high demand for its products and this had nothing to do with any form of currency manipulation.