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19th Apr 2019

Eurozone trade surplus doubles, boosts crisis countries

  • Exports up, imports down - the eurozone's trade surplus has doubled in 2013 (Photo: dawvon)

The prospects of the eurozone's nascent economic recovery were boosted on Monday (18 November) after figures revealed that the bloc's trade surplus in 2013 was on course to double 2012.

According to data published by EU statistics agency Eurostat, the eurozone recorded a trade surplus of €109.6 billion with the rest of the world in the first nine months of 2013, up from €50.2 billion last year.

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The eurozone's surplus with the United States remained almost unchanged at €47.6 billion, while its balance with Japan has shifted from a €4.2 billion deficit in 2012 to a €500 million surplus. China and Russia are the only major economies from whom the eurozone imports more than it sells.

Germany and the Netherlands were the strongest performers racking up surpluses of €127.8 billion and €36 billion, respectively, although both countries saw their export levels fall by 1 percent and 2 percent respectively.

The statistics come just days after the European Commission warned Germany that it would investigate whether its trade surplus, which is worth around 7 percent of GDP, was hurting other eurozone economies.

Meanwhile, embattled France, which has been repeatedly warned by the European Commission to take further steps to liberalise its labour market, saw a 2 percent fall in its export levels and a trade deficit of €50.1 billion.

Outside the eurozone-17, the UK has run the largest deficit at €44.5 billion so far in 2013.

However, the eurozone's crisis-countries are among the strongest performers, suggesting that their economies are rebalancing.

The figures will offer comfort to EU officials whose austerity programmes have focused on the bloc's southern periphery economies becoming more export oriented and reducing domestic consumption.

Spain, which will exit its €41 billion bank rescue package in January, has the fastest growing exports sector in the EU, with total exports valued at €157.9 billion, up on €150.5 billion in 2012.

At the same time, the country's imports have fallen from €174.5 billion to €166.9 billion, meaning that Spain is likely to export more than it consumes in 2014 for the first time since the 1970s.

Greece, Portugal and Cyprus are also among the handful of other European economies to see rising exports combined with falling imports.

But Italy bucks the trend, with its €19.3 billion surplus almost entirely the result of a 7 percent cut in consumption.

However, all four southern countries continue to experience high levels of unemployment.

Paris clashes with Berlin over impact of German exports

French finance minister Christine Lagarde has traded barbs with her German counterparts over Berlin's export-driven economic model and its potentially negative effects on the eurozone's troubled south.

Focus

China set to overtake Germany as world's largest exporter

A World Trade Organisation report published on Wednesday repeats an earlier forecast of a 10 percent fall in world trade levels this year, while the quicker economic recovery expected in Asia is likely to see China overtake Germany as the world's largest exporter.

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