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German exports up 3.4 percent last year to record near $1.5 trillion on non-European demand

Exports from Germany, Europe's biggest economy, hit a record high of nearly €1.1 trillion ($1.5 trillion) last year thanks to strong demand from outside Europe.

The Federal Statistical Office said Friday that exports grew 3.4 percent, driven by an 8.8 percent increase in sales of goods and services to countries outside the European Union. Exports to other countries in the 17-country eurozone, where several countries are in recession, were down 2.1 percent. Overall exports to the 27-nation EU dipped 0.3 percent.

The previous record for exports was set in 2011, when they totaled €1.06 trillion. German imports were up a more modest 0.7 percent last year to €909.2 billion.

Exports have been a traditional motor of growth for the German economy.