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14th Apr 2024

Eurozone posts surprise trade surplus

The eurozone posted an unexpected trade surplus in March, for the first time since the economic crisis broke out last year.

Eurostat figures published Monday (18 May) showed that the 16 EU countries sharing the euro registered a trade surplus of €400 million, up from a deficit of €1 billion in February.

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  • Eurozone trade figures are looking up for the first time since the crisis broke out (Photo: European Community)

The news is positive for eurozone nations, whose economies contracted by 2.5 percent in the first three months of 2009. Economists had forecast a trade deficit of €300 million in March.

Exports rose by 1.4 percent and imports by 0.6 percent, the data shows.

When it comes to the EU as a whole, however, the trade balance remains on the minus side, with a deficit of €9.5 billion. The trend is positive though, compared to a total deficit of €10.8 billion a month ago and €19.6 billion in March 2008.

A breakdown on trade sectors for January and February 2009 shows that a trade surplus in chemicals, machinery and vehicles is falling, while a trade deficit in energy is declining compared to last year.

The crisis hit trade flows with all major partners of the EU, the biggest decrease being recorded for exports to Turkey, which fell by 41 percent compared to the beginning of 2008.

Imports from Russia fell by 39 percent in the first two months of 2009, when Gazprom cut off gas supplies via Ukraine for two weeks.

Country-by-country statistics show that Germany had the largest trade surplus in January and February - €15.8 billion, followed by the Netherlands (€6.3 billion) and Ireland (€5.6 billion), while Great Britain posted the largest deficit (€16 billion), followed by Spain, Greece and Italy.

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