China overtakes top exporter Germany: WTO

GENEVA: China's goods exports edged ahead those of the world's largest exporter, Germany, for the first time ever during the first half of 2009, according to World Trade Organisation data given on Tuesday.

Chinese goods exports reached 521.7 billion dollars over the first six months of the year, while Germany's reached 521.6 billion dollars.

"It is an indication that the two countries are very very close," a WTO economist told AFP, confirming a report in the Financial Times.

But he said it was too soon to judge if by the end of the year China will have overtaken Germany as the world's largest exporter of goods over the whole of 2009, and declined to make a prediction.

"It will depend on a number of parameters such as the exchange rate as well as a recovery in certain regions," he added.

Exports from both countries faltered for several months but have shown hints of a recovery recently.

Germany is the biggest exporter of goods and services but has been closely tailed in recent years by China, which has been gaining ground with the explosive growth of the Chinese economy.

In 2007, Germany exported 1.32 trillion dollars of goods over the full year while China's exports reached 1.22 billion, according to WTO data.

Chinese exports grew by an average of 25 percent a year between 2000 and 2007 while German exports grew at a slower pace, 13 percent per annum.

However, Germany's 210.8 billion dollars in services exports in 2007 clearly distanced the 121.6 billion dollars recorded by China.