BERLIN, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- Germany's gross domestic product (GDP) in the fourth quarter (Q4) of last year rose by 0.3 percent compared with the previous quarter, the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) announced on Wednesday.
GDP "development was slightly more positive" than reported in a first calculation four weeks ago, both regarding the fourth quarter and last year, Destatis said. In 2020, the country's economy declined by 4.9 percent.
Minister for Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier said on Wednesday that the Destatis figures on economic growth were an "important signal of confidence." The results were also "better than many experts initially expected."
In Q4, the recovery process slowed due to the second coronavirus wave and another lockdown imposed at the end of the year. Compared to the pre-crisis level, Germany's GDP in the last quarter was down 3.7 percent year-on-year, according to Destatis.
Private household spending declined by 3.3 percent in Q4 2020 compared to the previous quarter, according to Destatis. Germany's construction sector as well as foreign trade, on the other hand, increased and had an upward effect on GDP.
"While a new wave of infections and lockdown measures brought private consumption down, exports expanded by 4.5 percent, thanks to the worldwide recovery in the demand for manufactured goods," Axel Lindner, deputy head of the Department Macroeconomics at Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH) told Xinhua on Wednesday.
China remained Germany's most important trading partner in 2020 for the fifth consecutive year, Destatis announced earlier this week. Despite the COVID-19 crisis, foreign trade turnover with China increased by 3.0 percent year-on-year, with goods worth 212.1 billion euros (258.1 billion U.S. dollars) traded between China and Germany in 2020.
"Looking into 2021, the precondition for a recovery of domestic demand is that vaccinations and other measures against the pandemic such as new test strategies allow for a normalization of daily life in Germany," said Lindner.
The German government is expecting GDP to grow by 3.0 percent this year, according to the annual economic report for 2021. In the coming months, "we will continue to work with all our power to preserve the substance of our economy," said Altmaier.