BBC News. Hello, this is Jerry Smit. The Eurozone's two biggest economies, Germany and France, have reported more bleak economic data on the impact to the coronavirus pandemic. German exports in April recorded their largest fall since records began 70 years ago. In France. the central bank is predicting an economic contraction of 10% this year. More from our economics correspondent Andrew Walker. Exports in Germany fell by almost a quarter in a single month and by more than 30% compared with the year earlier. That was the largest decline in a 12 month period since the introduction of foreign trade statistics in 1950. Such a hit to sales abroad is especially significant in Germany, as the country's industry is one of the world's leading exporters. The Bank of France forecasts a deep decline this year, with economic activity returning to pre-pandemic levels only in 2022. Unemployment, it says, is likely to peak at 11.5 percent in the middle of next year, having been below 8% before the health crisis.
North Korea has said it will cut all official communication lines with South Korea, including the hotline between the two countries leaders. Pyongyang said this was the first in a series of actions against Seoul. It's been angered by propaganda leaflets being flown over the border in balloons by North Korean defectors in the South. Laura Bicker is in Seoul. They sometimes put little parcels together with rice, but they also include anti North Korean regime leaflets, some of which are particularly unkind to Kim Jong-un. They are then launched in these huge helium balloons and float over the DMZ and into North Korea. Now for years, it has been a bone of contention. In 2018, when Kim Jong-un and President Moon met and there was that period of detente, the two made an agreement, and part of that agreement was that this leaflet would stop.
Moscow is lifting many of its restrictions imposed to control the coronavirus despite concerns that infections across Russia are still growing. The decision has been criticized by many as political. A referendum will take place later this month on constitutional reforms that could extend Vladimir Putin stay in power. Sarah Rainsford is in Moscow. This was quite a surprise, really, I think, for many Muscovites, a radical change in what's been called the self-isolation regime here over the past 10 weeks or so. Suddenly, the mayor came out yesterday and said that self-isolation was over. So people are out on the streets today, free to go where they want, to see who they want, to do what they want for the first time in a very long time. People driving cars as well until now you have to get a permit to use your car. You could only go out twice a week if you're going to the shop. So a huge amount of restrictions, very strict lockdown has suddenly ended.
China has advised students to think carefully before choosing to study in Australia, voicing concern over discrimination linked to the pandemic. A spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry said many Chinese have been verbally abused or attacked in Australia. BBC news.