German exports rose 18.5% in 2010

A worker in BMW factory in Berlin Carmakers are among Germany's biggest exporters

German exports rose 0.5% in December to round out a year of strong growth, increasing 18.5% in 2010, figures show.

But imports fell unexpectedly in December, down 2.3% on November, versus analysts' forecasts for slight growth.

Nevertheless, for the whole of 2010, imports rose by 20%, the Federal Statistics Office said.

The rebound in economic growth in Germany - Europe's largest economy - has been driven largely by exports. The economy grew by 3.6% last year.

The statistics office said it had revised data for January to November.

Carsten Brzeski, senior economist at ING, said: "The export-led recovery is alive and kicking.

"Despite fiscal consolidation in other eurozone countries and slower global demand, products 'made in Germany' remain a bestseller."

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