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German industrial orders post strongest drop in seven months in January

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Orders

Contracts for goods ‘Made in Germany’ were down by 2.6 per cent, data from the Economy Ministry showed, marking their steepest fall since June 2018 and confounding forecasts for a 0.5 per cent increase.

The ministry said the January decline was related to the strong upward revision of the December figure to a rise of 0.9 per cent from a previously reported drop of 1.6 per cent.

“But the current decline in orders points to a continuing slowdown in the industrial sector at the start of the year,’’ the ministry said.

Bookings for intermediate, capital and consumer goods all fell in January, a breakdown of data showed.

Both foreign and domestic orders declined.

The data add to a growing sense of gloom about the sector after a purchasing managers survey showed declining exports contributed to a contraction in manufacturing for a second month running in February.

But Bankhaus Lampe economist, Alexander Krueger, said the December revision alleviated the pain of the January result.

“At the moment it remains the case that the downward trend does not yet contain any potential for causing drama,’’ Krueger added.

The German economy, which was traditionally propelled by exports, has switched to relying on consumption for growth and an Economy Ministry document, seen by Reuters, shows the government expects state spending to rise this year, providing the much-needed impetus.

Record high employment, rising wages and low-interest rates have been encouraging consumers to splash their cash.

A GfK survey has shown morale among shoppers held steady heading into March.

Trade frictions and the risk of Britain leaving the EU this month without a deal are major risks for the German economy that only just avoided a recession — defined as two successive quarters of contraction — at the end of last year.

The Ifo institute has said business sentiment and other indicators point to a growth rate of 0.2 per cent in the first quarter.

The Ifo Institute for Economic Research is a Munich-based research institution.

Ifo is an acronym from Information and Forschung (research).

Foreign

Hungary, Germany to lift travel restrictions to each other’s citizens: FM

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Hungary and Germany will lift travel restrictions for each other’s citizens from 8 a.m. on Sunday, Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto said on his Facebook page on Saturday.

“Germany is our biggest trading partner. Many Hungarians work in Germany. Their employment and contact with their families have encountered very serious difficulties in the recent period,” Szijjarto said in a video message.

Germany’s management of the pandemic has proven to be effective, the minister said, adding that this provides an opportunity to lift restrictions on passenger traffic between the two countries.

German nationals will be allowed entry into Hungary, and Hungarians who return home from Germany are exempt from the quarantine obligations, according to the minister.

In another development, travel restrictions between Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia had been completely lifted starting from Friday.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Merkel allies criticise Trump decision to cut United States troops in Germany

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Senior lawmakers, from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling conservative bloc, on Saturday, criticised President Donald Trump’s decision to order the United States military to remove 9,500 troops from Germany.

The move would reduce United States troop’s numbers in Germany to 25,000, from 34,500.

“The plans once again show that the Trump administration is neglecting an elementary leadership task: the involvement of alliance partners in decision-making processes,’’ Johann Wadephul, foreign policy spokesman for the parliamentary group, told Reuters.

All NATO partners benefited from the cohesion of the alliance, and only Russia and China gain from discord, Wadephul said, adding: “This should be given more attention in Washington’’.

Wadephul also spoke of a “further wake-up call” to Europeans to position themselves better in terms of security policy.

The German Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

Andreas Nick, like Wadephul a member of the parliamentary foreign relations committee, told Deutsche Welle the indications were that “the decision was not a technical but a purely politically motivated decision’’.

A United States official, who did not want to be identified, said on Friday the move was the result of months of work by the top United States military officer, General Mark Milley, and had nothing to do with tensions between Trump and Merkel, who thwarted Trump’s plan to host a G7 meeting this month.

The withdrawal, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, is the latest twist in relations between Berlin and Washington, which have often been strained during Trump’s presidency.

Trump has pressed Germany to raise defence spending and accused Berlin of being a “captive” of Russia due to its energy reliance.

AIB

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Features

German gov’t supports local fleece manufacturer to boost face mask production

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The German government subsidised the expansion of fleece production by local company Innovatec in order to boost production of face masks in the country, Germany’s Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) announced this on Friday.

“We intend to significantly expand our production capacities for protective equipment in Germany and thus effectively reduce our dependence on imports,’’ said German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Peter Altmaier, when handing over the first notice of funding for fleece production.

Innovatec would invest more than 11 million euros ($12.5 million) in two new units for fleece production and could manufacture an additional 1,500 tons of fleece in the future, enabling the production of more than 1.5 billion face masks, according to BMWi.

The programme was aiming to stimulate an additional fleece production of 4,000 tons per year.

However, Altmaier stressed that “our long-term goal is to cover the entire value chain, from machines to filter fleece and protective masks’’.

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Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Foreign

German police attempt to break up anti-racism rally in Hamburg

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Police in the northern German city of Hamburg on Friday said they had intervened to disperse attendees of an anti-racism rally they claimed were not adhering to coronavirus restrictions.

Around 1,500 people attended the demonstration, which was linked to last week’s killing by United States police of African-American man, George Floyd.

The event had originally been registered for 250 participants outside the United States consulate along the banks of Hamburg’s Alster River, a police spokesperson said.

Police declared the event over after just half an hour, claiming attendees had violated police instructions to observe coronavirus restrictions such as keeping a safe distance from one another and wearing a covering over their lower faces.

However, the crowds did not immediately disperse, with photos posted on social media, showing people sitting instead on the ground.

German politician, Christiane Schneider of the hard-left Die Linke, posted a picture on Twitter using the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter she claimed showed a police water cannon ready for deployment against the crowd.

The demonstration was registered under the motto “Justice for Floyd – stop killing blacks – stop the racial terrorism in the USA’’.

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Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Foreign

Trump directs United States troops reduction in Germany: media

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United States President Donald Trump directed the Pentagon to reduce United States military presence in Germany by September, United States media reported on Friday.

Citing United States government officials, The Wall Street Journal said in a Friday piece that the move would reduce 9,500 troops from the 34,500 troops that are permanently assigned in Germany.

The move also limits the size of United States troops deployed in Germany at any one time at the 25,000-troop level. According to the report, overall troop levels under current practice can rise to as high as 52,000 as units rotate in and out or take part in training exercises.

The report came days after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said due to the coronavirus pandemic, she will not attend the Group of Seven (G7) Summit that initially scheduled at the White House in late June.

A person familiar with the matter was quoted as saying that the troops’ reduction plan had been discussed within the administration for months and was not linked to Merkel’s decision on G7 Summit.

The reduction plan might further strain the relations between Washington and Berlin. The two allies have been at odds with each other on Iran nuclear issues, Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, and defense burden-sharing, among others.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Germany’s GDP to shrink by 7 pct in 2020: central bank

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Germany’s total economic output would shrink by seven percent in 2020 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Germany’s central bank, Deutsche Bundesbank, forecasted on Friday.

After a decline in 2020, Germany’s real gross domestic product (GDP) was expected to increase again by three to four percent annually over the next two years. “The German economy will recover following a deep recession in the second quarter of this year,” according to Deutsche Bundesbank.

Germany’s economic output had seen an “exceptionally sharp drop” in the first quarter of the current year, Deutsche Bundesbank noted. However, the German economy had already “bottomed out” in April and was starting to recover.

The recovery of the German economy would initially remain subdued because the negative effects caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic and the measures taken to contain new infections would diminish only gradually, according to Deutsche Bundesbank.

The forecast was finalized after the latest economic stimulus package was announced earlier this week by the German government. As a result, the economic outlook was now “noticeably more favorable,” Deutsche Bundesbank noted.

The state aid, worth 130 billion euros (147 billion United States dollars) for the years 2020 and 2021, includes a reduction of the value-added tax (VAT) from 19 percent to 16 percent until the end of this year, which alone would cost around 20 billion euros, according to the government.

“Further stimulus is also appropriate in light of the current situation, and I welcome the economic stimulus package,” stated Jens Weidmann, head of the Deutsche Bundesbank, adding that government finances were making a “substantial contribution to stabilization.”

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

German gov’t supports local fleece manufacturer to boost face mask production

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The German government subsidized the expansion of fleece production by local company Innovatec in order to boost production of face masks in the country, Germany’s Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) announced on Friday.

“We intend to significantly expand our production capacities for protective equipment in Germany and thus effectively reduce our dependence on imports,” said German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier when handing over the first notice of funding for fleece production.

Innovatec would invest more than 11 million euros (12.5 million United States dollars) in two new units for fleece production and could manufacture an additional 1,500 tons of fleece in the future, enabling the production of more than 1.5 billion face masks, according to BMWi.

The program was aiming to stimulate an additional fleece production of 4,000 tons per year. However, Altmaier stressed that “our long-term goal is to cover the entire value chain, from machines to filter fleece and protective masks.”

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Filed bankruptcies in Germany see moderate increase: IWH

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With 1,019 companies in Germany filing for bankruptcy in May, insolvencies recorded a “moderate increase” of 53 companies compared to the previous year, the Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH) announced on Friday.

Although overall corporate bankruptcies in Germany remained almost constant, IWH found that an increasing number of employees was subject to employer bankruptcy.

The five largest German companies, which filed for bankruptcy in May, employed a total of more than 10,000 people, according to the IWH analysis. In the previous months, there had hardly been any company insolvencies that affected 1,000 or more workers.

“During the course of the financial crisis of 2008/2009, we also observed increasingly large firms filing for bankruptcy,” said Steffen Mueller, head of IWH department of structural change and productivity and the IWH bankruptcy research unit.

Beyond economic crises, IWH noted that large companies were generally in a better position than small companies to avoid insolvency through a timely implementation of restructuring measures.

In order to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus crisis, the German government temporarily suspended companies’ duty to file for insolvency until the end of September if the insolvency was directly caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As a result of this law, it is possible that fewer insolvency applications will be received than usual at present and that these are not expected until autumn 2020,” warned Erik Geisler, vice president of a local district court in Darmstadt in March when the obligation to notify was suspended.

“Ultimately, the coronavirus crisis and the bankruptcies associated with it will be visible in increased job loss even if the bankruptcy numbers should stay moderate,” warned Mueller, who stressed that the current numbers would just reflect the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Germany’s biggest health insurer reports rise in prescription drug spending before lockdown

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During the week before contact restrictions came into force in Germany in mid-March, expenditure on pharmaceuticals by Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) had already increased by 44 percent year-on-year, the country’s biggest statutory health insurance fund said on Friday.

TK’s expenditure on pharmaceuticals totaled about 104 million euros (117.6 million United States dollars) during the second week of March, said the insurer.

The number of prescriptions, which included an unusually large number of large drug packages, was 10 percentage points higher than in the same week last year, according to the TK.

Patients in Germany had “stocked up on prescription drugs before the so-called lockdown, this applies in particular to insured people with chronical diseases,” said Jens Baas, chair of the TK’s Board of Directors.

The sharp increase in expenditure on drugs shows that the costs of the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany are currently difficult to estimate, according to the TK.

During March, expenditure on pharmaceuticals per insured person increased around 26 percent, but returned to the level of the previous year in April, according to the TK’s initial evaluation.

“Due to the economic consequences of the pandemic, enormous slumps on the revenues side are already apparent for the entire statutory health insurance system,” said Baas.

(XINHUA)

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