German imports from China increased by 52.8 percent year-on-year in April to 16.7 billion euros (17.4 billion U.S. dollars), the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) said on Monday.
The sharp rise was due in particular to Germany's imports of chemical products, which rose almost sixfold to 4.4 billion euros. "More raw materials for the production of medicines were purchased (by Germany) in China in April 2022," Destatis said.
Germany's medical equipment and supplies market is expanding. The Association of Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (vfa) expects more than 45 drugs with new active ingredients to be launched in 2022, the same number as in 2021.
In April 2022, German imports of Chinese-made computer products were up 20.4 percent year-on-year and imports of electrical equipment increased by 27.1 percent.
"German foreign trade in April 2022 was still largely unaffected by the COVID-19 lockdowns in the People's Republic of China and the related disruptions in freight transport," Destatis said.
While German exports to China fell by 1.5 percent to 8.3 billion euros in April, the manufacturers of motor vehicles and parts sold 4 percent more of their products (2.6 billion euros) than a year earlier.
China continues to be the largest single market for German car manufacturers. Of the 1.8 million passenger vehicles delivered worldwide by Volkswagen in the first quarter of 2022, more than 753,500 went to customers in China.
This comes as international trade is hampered by serious disruptions.
The German Kiel Institute for the World Economy's (IfW Kiel) indicator for May showed a 1 percent month-on-month drop in the volume of international trade, which "is again suffering more from the congestion and delays in container shipping."
In 2021, maritime trade with China made up more than a fifth of the total container throughput at Germany's sea ports, primarily Hamburg. Shanghai alone accounted for a throughput of 968,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units), almost 7 percent of the country's total.
As an alternative to transport by sea or air, Germany's state-owned rail operator Deutsche Bahn set up DB Cargo Transasia in Shanghai at the end of last year, establishing direct train connections between 18 European countries and China. (1 euro = 1.04 U.S. dollar)