German trade surplus widens to new record high

LEIPZIG, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 18: Robots manufacture a carbon chassis of a new BMW i3 electric car on the assembly line at the BMW factory on September 18, 2013 in Leipzig, Germany. The i3 is BMW's first mass market electric car and the company has invested EUR 400 million into its production at the Leipzig factory. (Photo by Jens Schlueter/Getty Images)
Jens Schlueter

BERLIN Germany's trade surplus widened in September to a record high in a development that underlines criticism that Europe's largest economy is not importing enough to boost other economies in Europe.

The Federal Statistical Office reported Friday that exports were up 1.7 percent to 92.8 billion euros ($124 billion) in September over August, when adjusted for seasonal and calendar differences. Imports dropped 1.9 percent to 73.9 billion euros.

As a result, the trade surplus in September hit a record high 18.8 billion euros, up from a revised 15.8 billion euros in August.

The United States a week ago criticized Germany for its large trade surplus, saying it was causing problems for its partners in the 17-country eurozone -- importing goods and services from countries like Greece and Spain could help shore up those debt-laden economies. It urged Germany to push for more domestic-led growth.

The International Monetary Fund has also joined in the criticism, saying that a smaller surplus by German is the only way to even out the imbalances that plague the eurozone.

Since the creation of the euro in 1999, the currency union has become split between countries that run up surpluses and ones that run chronic deficits -- and gotten into trouble with excess debt. The argument is Germany should buy more from other countries and support growth elsewhere in the eurozone.

The Germans say there's no purpose to be served in making their economy less competitive. They have pressed other eurozone members to reduce their budget deficits and improve growth prospects through reforms that cut excessive labor costs -- as Germany did a decade ago.