In the first nine months of 2010, China opened up a massive exports lead on Germany, which until last year was still exporting more merchandise than the Asian giant, World Trade Organization data showed.

In the January-September period, China exported goods worth $1,134.7 billion, an increase of 34 percent on the previous year, according to calculations by the WTO. By contrast, German sales rose by 14.2 percent to $921.3 billion, the data showed.

Germany was the world’s biggest exporter of goods from 2003 until last year, when it suffered its biggest postwar recession.

Jens Nagel, managing director at Germany’s leading foreign trade association, the BGA, said China now ruled the roost.

“The contest is over,” he told Reuters. “Nobody’s going to take the export champion’s crown from China for a long time.”

China’s 2010 export lead of some $213 billion compared with an advantage of less than $40 billion over the same period a year earlier, the WTO figures showed.

The data also showed German exports were still some way behind its record year of 2008, when the country sold nearly $1,145 billion worth of goods in the first nine months. (Reuters)