Eurozone crisis hits members’ imports

GERMAN and French imports continued to fall in February, figures showed yesterday, as the Eurozone crisis hammers consumer budgets.

Imports to Germany dived from €74.9bn (£63.9bn) in January to €71.9bn in February, official statistical body Destatis said. Taking the first two months of the year together, German households and firms bought £2.3bn less in 2013 than in 2012.

The picture for France was similar, with imports sliding 1.7 per cent between the first two months of the year, and exports crashing 2.4 per cent.

Unlike Germany, where exports were flat over the year, leading to a widening trade surplus, France moved further into trade deficit – making it the only Eurozone country whose deficit has gone up for three successive months.

Meanwhile, a Bank of France survey of the manufacturing industry revealed a worsening climate for the sector in March.

Firms with worsening order books outnumber those facing better demand conditions by 12 percentage points – up from 10 percentage points in February.

This came as Italian official data body Istat revealed that wages determined by collective bargaining agreements were completely flat between January and February, bringing the annual increase down from January’s 1.5 per cent to 1.4 per cent, as economic woes weigh on salaries.

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