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Euro area records nearly $50 billion trade deficit in August

The figure represents a marked turnaround in the 19-state bloc's trade deficit since a $2.7 billion surplus in 2021.

(CN) — What a difference a year makes. In August 2021, exports from the euro area to the rest of the world had a value of 186.4 billion euros, while imports that month stood at 183.6 billion euros, representing a trade surplus of 2.8 billion euros, or about $2.7 billion. But according to new data released by Eurostat Friday, the euro area recorded a trade deficit of nearly $50 billion in August 2022.

The flip was even more pronounced when reviewed in eight-month increments. In the eight-month period ending in August 2021, the euro experienced a trade surplus of 124 billion euros. But for the first eight months of 2022, it ran a trade deficit of 228.8 billion euros ($222 million). 

An 18.1% growth in exports and 49.9% growth in imports between the first eight months of 2021 and the first eight months of 2022 drove the deficit, with the main products being food and drink, raw materials and energy. Such primary goods had a trade deficit of 136.8 billion euros in 2021, which grew to 421.7 billion euros this year. 

Manufactured goods, such as chemicals, machinery and vehicles saw a trade surplus, although it fell from a balance of 225.6 billion euros in 2021 to 115.7 billion euros in 2022. Intra-euro area trade rose to 210.5 billion euros in August 2022, up by 34.8% compared with August 2021.

Among its main trading partners, the EU ran deficits with China, Russia, Norway, Turkey, South Korea and India. It has trade surpluses with the United States, United Kingdom, and Switzerland. Trade with Japan is nearly flat. 

The member states with the largest deficits include France with 123.8 billion euros, Spain with 48.1 billion euros, Greece with 23.7 billion euros and Italy with 23.4 billion euros. Those with the largest surpluses include Ireland with 46.3 billion euros, Germany with 39.8 billion euros and the Netherlands with 36.5 billion euros. Only two more of the EU’s 27 member states noted a surplus, Czechia with 2.5 billion euros and Denmark with 900 million euros. 

Year over year, only Cyprus notched a decrease in extra-EU exports, while Latvia, Estonia and Luxembourg were the only three to experience decreases in extra-EU imports. 

“Since the introduction of Intrastat for intra-EU trade on 1 January 1993, the value of intra-EU exports has been consistently higher than that of intra-EU imports,” Eurostat said in a statement. “In theory, as exports are declared [free on board] and imports [cost insurance freight], the value of corresponding imports should be slightly higher than that of exports. Eurostat uses intra-EU exports as the more reliable measure of total intra-EU trade as, at aggregated levels, total intra-EU exports has better coverage than total intra-EU imports. Due to this divergence in intra-EU trade, and to the difficulties of interpreting figures in absolute terms at the level of individual member states, trade balances for individual member states must be interpreted with caution.” 

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