Eurozone trade surplus lifts as imports tumble

 
Tim Wallace
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FALLING imports and rising exports of goods pushed the Eurozone’s trade surplus to a record high in December, official data showed yesterday.

The surplus increased to €24.3bn (£18bn) in December, up from €13.6bn in a year earlier.

Such a strong figure should boost GDP in the troubled currency area, but also reflects the weak demand afflicting the continent.

Exports of goods to non-Eurozone countries fell by 1.1 per cent on the month to €161.5bn, but the surplus widened because imports fell more quickly, down two per cent to €137.2bn.

On the year the surplus jumped 27.9 per cent to €194.8bn

But economists predicted a healthier rise in exports over the coming year, thanks to the fall in the value of the euro against the dollar and the pound.

“Exporters are likely to fare better in 2015, benefiting not only from the fall in the euro but also strong growth in key export markets such as the US and the UK,” said Jessica Hinds from Capital Economics.

“Indeed, the depreciation of the euro suggests that the annual pace of export growth should continue to pick up in the coming months. However, the ongoing uncertainty over Greece and its future in the Eurozone may soon start to weigh on global business sentiment, hitting exporters.”

The Eurozone’s biggest trading partner from January to November 2014 was the UK, which imported €235bn of goods from the region, and exported €147.7bn to the currency zone.