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Germany's foreign trade surplus widens in August as imports fall

Germany's foreign trade surplus widened to €18.3 billion in August after narrowing to a upwardly revised €15.9 billion in July, after calendar and seasonal adjustments, provisional data from the Federal Statistical Office showed.

On an adjusted basis, exports edged down 0.1% to €110.3 billion from the previous month, while imports dropped 2.7% to €92.0 billion.

Germany's unadjusted trade surplus climbed to €17.2 billion in August from €16.5 billion in the previous month, as exports increased on a yearly basis by 2.2% to €105.2 billion while imports went up by an annual 6.2% to €88.1 billion.

In the first eight months of 2018, the unadjusted trade surplus stood at €155.9 billion, down from €160.1 billion in the year-ago period.

In August, the country's exports to European Union member states increased by 1.2% from the prior-year period to €59.3 billion, while imports rose 5.2% to €48.3 billion. August exports to countries outside the EU went up by 3.5% to €45.9 billion, while imports climbed 7.2% to €39.7 billion.

Germany's current account surplus was at €15.3 billion in August, up from €15.1 billion in July, and down from €17.8 billion in the year-ago period, according to provisional data from the Deutsche Bundesbank.

"August trade data is no game changer. After a disappointing industrial report, trade data brought little relief," said Carsten Brzeski, chief economist at ING Germany. "Looking at the bigger picture, the ongoing trade tensions have not led to any structural changes in the German export sector."

Brzeski, however, noted a "pre-Brexit effect" amid the U.K.'s falling importance as an export partner, accounting for only 6% of all German exports, while the U.S. remains the country's most important export destination, followed by France, the Netherlands and China.