German exports fell by 11.8% in March, the Federal Statistical Office said on Friday, its biggest drop since current records began in 1990, as the coronavirus crisis reduced demand for goods from Europe's largest economy.
The office said seasonally adjusted imports decreased by 5.1%, and the trade surplus shrank to €12.8 billion ($13.88 billion) from €21.4 billion, adjusted for the previous month.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected exports to fall 5% and imports to have fallen 4%. The trade surplus was expected to reach €18.9 billion.
The German government expects that the economy, which was traditionally dependent on exports, is expected to shrink by a record 6.3%, the worst since World War II, despite a massive rescue package of €750 billion to mitigate the impact of the epidemic.
Economists expect any recovery to be slow, and the pace of economic recovery depends largely on how quickly Germany's European neighbors and other trade partners, such as China and the United States, emerge from the crisis.