Exports struggle to keep EU afloat as consumer demand slides even further

Tim Wallace
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OVERALL growth slowed dramatically across Europe from April to June, figures released yesterday confirmed – but growing demand from other countries helped the 27 member states in positive figures.

GDP across the European Union grew by a meagre 0.2 per cent in the second quarter, taking growth for the 12 months to June to 1.7 per cent.

The UK performed weakly, with annual growth of 0.7 per cent, while the Baltic nations expanded the most. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania all boomed, growing at 8.4 per cent, 5.7 per cent and 6.2 per cent respectively.

Falling household spending was largely to blame, declining 0.2 per cent in the second quarter. Export growth bolstered the figures, with a one per cent rise outstripping the 0.5 per cent growth in imports.

As evidence of weak growth and low confidence in the third quarter mounts – including this week’s poor PMI stats – analysts predict the stagnation will continue through 2012.

“The data continue to signal ongoing slowdown of the Eurozone economy,” said Julian Callow from Barclays Capital. “Our PMI-based GDP indicator continues to signal that in Q3 real GDP expansion will be around 0.1 per cent, quarter on quarter, though we do see that risks are rather tilted to the downside.”

The EU’s 0.2 per cent growth was matched by the US, while Japan’s economy shrank by 0.3 per cent.