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German trade group BGA sees exports rising 3 percent in 2014

BERLIN (Reuters) - German exports could grow by up to 3 percent in 2014 to a record 1.142 trillion euros thanks to an upturn in the global economy and in some struggling euro zone countries, Germany's BGA trade association said on Monday.

The BGA also said Germany's trade surplus could widen to 224 billion euros because imports would rise only one percent in 2014 to 918 billion euros. Exports have been the cornerstone of Germany's economy for decades.

"We'll once again be able to profit from a gradual improvement in world markets," said BGA president Anton Boerner in a statement released on Monday, adding there had been an increase in orders from abroad.

"At the same time there are more signs of a further stabilisation of the economic conditions in European countries that have been struggling," he added.

The BGA expects German exports to have grown by a modest one percent in 2013 while imports were stagnant.

Germany faced international criticism earlier in 2013 for not doing enough to reduce its high trade surpluses. The U.S. government reprimanded Germany in October in its semi-annual report to Congress for its economic imbalances.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has issued a similar message that Germany has "homework" to do on stability in the euro zone.

Boerner said Germany's export growth is driven increasingly by countries outside of Europe, rather than hampering euro zone trading partners.

"On the contrary, we're the export engine for Europe as a whole and suppliers from all over the European Union are profiting from that," Boerner said.

But he said risks included "the lack of structural reforms in France and the danger that the economic and social reforms China has announced won't be implemented in a timely manner."

(Reporting by Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)