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German economy grows by 1.3% in 2008

THE German economy grew by 1.3 percent in 2008, slowing to about half the previous year's level as the global financial crisis took its toll on exports, preliminary government figures showed today.

Last year's figure compared with growth in Europe's biggest economy of 2.5 percent in 2007 and 3 percent in 2006.

The German economy managed healthy growth of 1.4 percent in last year's first quarter, but then started shrinking. It went into recession in the third quarter.

The Federal Statistical Office is not due to release fourth-quarter figures until February 13.

"Economic growth in 2008 was solely based on domestic demand," the office said in a statement.

It said net exports, which powered Germany's relatively strong economic performance in previous years, weighed down last year's growth -- making a negative contribution of 0.3 percentage points.

Exports grew by 3.9 percent last year, down from the previous year's 7.5 percent, while growth in imports was up to 5.2 percent from 5 percent, the statistical office said.

Data released last week showed that exports declined by 10.6 in November compared with the previous month -- the sharpest monthly drop since German reunification in 1990.

In an effort to help the economy weather the global crisis, Chancellor Angela Merkel's governing coalition this week agreed on a new €50 billion (US$67 billion) stimulus plan that includes investments in infrastructure, as well as tax breaks, cuts to state health care contributions and bonuses for families with children.

That comes on top of an earlier plan worth €23 billion, which was criticized at home and abroad as too cautious.


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