Regional structural change of German’s Foreign Trade from 1880 to 1938

Resource Type
Dataset : Survey and aggregate data
  • Jasper, Robert
Publication Date
  • ZA:
    • Historical Studies Data
  • Abstract

    The study deals with the changes in the regional structure of Germany’s foreign trade as well as with the causes of these changes between 1880 and 1938. In this context the regional development of german import and export by continents, regions and counties for the major German tradepartners is described. After that the regional development of the trade flows of all major import- and exportproducts is analysed. The German foreign trade therefore is examined on the basis of the goods on the one hand and on the other on the basis of the countries. For the analysis the researcher collected the data (time series) for the important goods and commodity groups. Further more he developed a consistent definition of the commodity groups, so that they are comparable. Mehtodology a) Definition and Problem: The following processes hab been defined as structural change: - fundamental shifts in the composition of foreign trade partners, as well as - meaningful and sustained change of direction or volume of important commodities and products that affect the trade with countries or regions. b) Temporal Delimination: Period of investigation is from 1880 to 1938. The statistics for the war years 1914-1918 and 1939 and for the post-war years 1919-1924 have not been included in the analysis because values were not covered or values are very incomplete or unreliable coused by inflation and other circumstances of that period. c) Changes of Territory: The data of the German trade statistics refer from 1880 to February 1906 to the German custom territory, which comprised since 1872 the territory of the German Customs Union, consisting of the 26 states, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Austrian municipalities Jungholz and Mittelberg. The free port areas of Hamburg, Bremerhaven, Geestermünde and Helgoland and parts of the municipality of Hamburg and Cuxhaven did not belong to the German custum territory. Since March 1906 the german trade statistics collected data of the foreign merchandise traffic of the entire German economic area, consists until the Versailler contract of the area of the German Empire including the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Austrian municipalities Jungholz and Mittelberg, excluding Helgoland and the badenese Custum boards. Since 1920 the official trade statistics reports the values of the foreign trade for the German Empire in its new borders. That is to say, the regions of Alsace-Lorraine, the Free City of Danzig, and parts of the Prussian provinces of East Prussia, West Prussia, Brandenburg, Pomerania, Silesia, Posen, Schleswig-Holstein, the Rhine province, the territory of Luxembourg and for the years 1919 to 1935, the Saarland no longer belong to the German economic territory. The expansion of the German Empire territory between 1938 and 1939 by the annexation of Austria, Sudetenland, Bohemia, Moravia, and the Memel territory has been kept out of consideration. For the analysis of the German foreign trade the values of german imports and exports published by the Statistical Office of the German Empire has been used. While comparing the pre-1914 values with values after the first World War, it is important to reconsider the lost of major agricultural areas of East-Germany, which restricts the comparison and it’s explanatory power or validity. On the other hand these changes reveals the changes of Germany’s foreign trade structure. Thus, it becomes obvious how the separation of large agricultural and farming land increased Germany’s import dependency in the food sector as well as Germany’s decreased export opportunities of agricultural products. d) System of commodity groups: The problem of published German trade values of the Official Statistics of the German Empire is, that commodity groups are not defined in terms of their content. Insofar as the information is about single goods (eg.: rye, copper, cotton, etc.), the values are reliable. This is not the case as soon as the information is about commodity groups, such as ‘food’, ‘textiles’, ‘metal goods’, etc., because the structure of the aggregation of specific goods to a commodity group has changed six times over the period of investigation. The list of countries in the german foreign trade statistics has changed as well. Therfore, the author had to revised commodity groups and country lists for the purpose of its analysis and to make them comparable. The author developed the following scheme in order to sort countries into groups or regions: - Europe: Denmarc, Norway, Sweden, Finnland = North Europe Netherlands, Belgium/Luxembuorg, Great Britain, France, Swizerland = West Europe Jugoslawia, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, Albania, Greek, european and asiatic Turkey = South-East Europe Portugal, Spane, Italy = South Europe Poland, Tschechoslowakia, Russia, Baltic States = East Europ Austria-Hungary - America: Canada, United States of America = North-America Mexico, Costarica, Duba, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Haiti, El Salvador = Central America Agrentinia, Brazil, Chile = South America - Remaining southamerican countries: Bolivia, Columbia, Equador, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela - Africa Egypt, remaining Africa = Africa China, Japan, remaining Asia == Asia - Australia and Oceania In order to analyze the trade flow the different subdivisions into commodity groups of the official statistcs has to be revised. As key commodities has been defined goods, whose share of imports and exports amounted not less than 3%. In individual cases, goods with a lower level of import- and export-share were also taken into account when they had a special significance for the German trade (eg. natural rubber). The researcher made the regional analysis of import for 19 commodity groups and the regional analysis for export for 11 commodity groups: Import: Wheat, rye and barley, fruits and tropical fruits, coffee, meat and meat products, milk - butter - cheese, eggs, fats, textile raw materials, wool, cotton, hides and leather, wood, oil crops and oilseeds, natural rubber and gutta percha, mineral oils, ores , metals, copper. Export: Sugar, coal, textiles, leather and leather products, paper and paper products, chemical and pharmaceutical products, glass and glassware, metal goods, machinery, electronic products, automobiles. The statistical register of the German Empire’s official statistics according to the ‘Brussels Product Register’of 1913 has been the basis for collecting the trade values of these goods. This product list has been modified several times during the study period. Therefore it was necessary to arrange the individual goods to the used superordinated concept of the official statistics of the later years with the aim to get a consistent and comparable classification over the period under investigation. Time-series data has been collected to the following subjects: A. Overview of the commodity-structure of the german foreign trade B. Germany’s foreign trade statistics by continents and contries C. International trade statistics of Germany by commodities and commodity-groups as well as by countries and regions Topics Datatables (Timeseries) in the search- and downloadsystem HISTAT ((Historical Statistics),, only in german language!) (Subject: Außenhandel – Foreign Trade) A. Overview of Germany’s foreign trade’s commodity-structure A.1 Anzahl der in der Statistik des Deutschen Reiches aufgeführten Länder (1880-1939) A.2 Die Anteile einzelner Waren am gesamten deutschen Import in laufenden Preisen, in Prozent (1880-1939) A.3 Die Anteile einzelner Exportwaren am gesamten deutschen Export in laufenden Preisen (1880-1939) B. Germany’s foreign trade statistics by continents and countries B.01.01 Germany’s import from Europe (1880-1938) B.01.02 Germany’s import form America (1880-1938) B.01.03 Germany’s import from Africa and Asia (1880-1938) B.02.01 Germany’s export to Europe (1880-1938) B.02.02 Germany’s export to America (1880-1938) B.02.03 Germany’s export to Africa und Asia (1880-1938) C. International trade statistics of Germany by commodities and commodity-groups as well as by countries and regions C.01.01 Germany’s import of wheat (1880-1938) C.01.02 Germany’s import of rye and barley (1880-1938) C.01.03 Germany’s import of fruits and tropical fruits (1880-1938) C.01.04 Germany’s import of coffee (1880-1938) C.01.05 Germany’s import of meat and meat products (1913-1938) C.01.06 Germany’s import of milk, butter and cheese (1880-1938) C.01.07 Germany’s import of eggs (1880-1938) C.01.08 Germany’s import of fat (1880-1938) C.01.09 Germany’s import of textiles and drapery (1880-1938) C.01.10 Germany’s import of wools (1880-1938) C.01.11 Germany’s import of cotton (1880-1938) C.01.12 Germany’s import of leather and coats (1880-1938) C.01.13 Germany’s import of wood (1880-1938) C.01.14 Germany’s import of oil crops and oilseeds (1880-1938) C.01.15 Germany’s import of natural rubber and gutta percha (1880-1938) C.01.16 Germany’s import of mineral oiles (1880-1938) C.01.17 Germany’s import of ores (1880-1938) C.01.18 Germany’s import of metals (1880-1938) C.01.19 Germany’s import of copper (1880-1938) C.02.01 Germany’s export of sugar (1880-1938) C.02.02 Germany’s export of coal (1880-1938) C.02.03 Germany’s export of textiles (1880-1938) C.02.04 Germany’s export of leather and leather goods (1880-1938) C.02.05 Germany’s export of paper and paper products (1910-1938) C.02.06 Germany’s export of chemical and pharmaceutig products (1896-1938) C.02.07 Germany’s export of of glass and glass products (1910-1938) C.02.08 Germany’s export of metal goods (1880-1938) C.02.09 Germany’s export of machinery (1880-1938) C.02.10 Germany’s export of electro-technical products (1908-1938) C.02.11 Germany’s export of vehicles (1880-1938)
Temporal Coverage
  • 1880 / 1938
Geographic Coverage
  • German Reich (1871-1945) (DXDE)
    German Tariff Union
Collection Mode
  • Sources : Publications of the German Empire’s Statistical Office: - Statistik des Deutschen Reichs – Auswärtiger Warenverkehr. - Bänder der ‚Neuen Folge’ (Statistik des deutschen Zollgebietes mit dem Ausland) - Vierteljahreshefte bzw. Monatshefte zur Statistik des Deutschen Reichs. - Der Außenhandel Deutschlands, Monatliche Nachweise von 1892 – 1939. - Wirtschaft und Statistik von 1921 bis 1939. - Vierteljahreshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung, hrsg. vom Institut für Konjunkturforschung, Berlin 1926-1937. Scientific Publications (see downloadable PDF-document ‚ZA8361_Quellen-Anmerkungen.pdf’, in HISTAT (
Data and File Information
  • Unit Type: Text Unit
    Number of Units: 58
    Number of Variables: 757
A - Data and documents are released for academic research and teaching.
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Alternative Identifiers
  • ZA8361 (Type: ZA-No.)
  • Jasper, Robert, 1996: Die regionalen Strukturwandlungen des deutschen Außenhandels von 1880 bis 1938. Diss. des Fachbereichs Wirtschaftswissenschaften der Freien Universität Berlin. Berlin.

Update Metadata: 2020-10-21 | Issue Number: 86 | Registration Date: 2010-07-23