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Germany Prepares to Cede Export Crown to China

China will surpass Germany as the world's biggest exporter of goods this year, German Economy Minister Michael Glos said on Monday.

"We're still the world's biggest exporter, although China will surpass us this year," Glos said in Berlin.

Germany, Europe's largest economy, has been the world's biggest exporter of goods since 2003. However, analysts have been saying for several years that the faster-growing Chinese economy would eventually overhaul Germany.

Glos's comment came despite the fact Chinese exports are expected to be hit by the weaker U.S. economy this year.

German politicians regularly refer to Germany's export strength to underline the competitive gains the country's industry has made in recent years -- a development which has been accompanied by marked wage restraint.

Export success has helped Germany to post its strongest sustained burst of economic growth since re-unification over the past two years. However, domestic demand, notably private consumption, has been sluggish.

In the whole of last year, Germany exported goods worth some 969 billion euros ($1.417 trillion) to the rest of the world, compared to Chinese exports of $1.218 trillion.