China has zipped past Germany as the world’s largest exporter after German exports slumped 18.4 per cent in 2009, the sharpest fall since 1950.

Germany’s exports last year fell 18.4 per cent from the previous year to 803.2 billion euros, or $1,121.3 billion, allowing China with exports of $1,201.6 billion to replace the biggest European economy as the world’s largest exporter for the first time.

Germany, which had remained the largest exporter since 2003, logged the heavy export drop due to the financial crisis in 2009, Kyodo news agency reported, quoting official trade figures released on Monday.

China has become the world’s production base as major Japanese, U.S. and European companies have built manufacturing plants in the communist nation.

China also replaced the United States in domestic new vehicle sales in 2009 and is expected to become the world’s second-largest economic power in terms of gross domestic product in place of Japan this year, the report said.

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