German exports fell slightly in May, decreasing by 0.5% on the previous month, while imports beat forecasts, rising by 2.7%, according to Federal Statistical Office data on Monday.
A Reuters poll had predicted a month-on-month rise in exports of 0.9%.
The surprise fall in overall exports was due to weaker demand from European Union countries, which saw a decrease of 2.8% in exports compared with April 2022.
Thomas Gitzel, chief economist at VP Bank, said the fall in exports should not be overemphasised. "But the number of negative reports is growing, which is why a sober view of the figures leaves one with an uneasy feeling," he added.
The most German exports went to the United States in May, with 5.7% more goods exported there compared with the previous month to reach 13.4 billion euros, said the statistics office.
Exports from Germany to Russia grew by 29.4% in May compared with the previous month, to 1.0 billion euros, the office said, after plummeting by 60% in March amid severe Western sanctions on Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.
In May, Germany had a seasonally adjusted trade deficit of 1 billion euros ($1.04 billion), the office reported, versus a forecast 2.7 billion euros. ($1 = 0.9300 euros) (Reporting by Miranda Murray; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Matthias Williams)