The trade balance was a record deficit of EUR 32.1 billion in 2008, swinging back from EUR 15.8 billion surplus recorded in 2007. Exports grew only 4%, while imports rose 7%.
Eurozone trade deficit in 2008 was the biggest since the introduction of euro ten years ago, due to higher energy costs and weakening exports, official data showed Tuesday. Data released by the Eurostat revealed that the trade balance was a record deficit of EUR 32.1 billion in 2008, swinging back from EUR 15.8 billion surplus recorded in 2007. Exports grew only 4%, while imports rose 7%.
Eurozone exports were hit hard by the ongoing global economic crisis. Exports to the U.S. fell 5% in the 11 months through November from a year earlier. Shipments to the UK were down 5%.
The Eurostat said the not seasonally adjusted trade deficit narrowed to EUR 0.7 billion in December from November's revised deficit of EUR 5.8 billion. It was also down from the EUR 3.9 billion shortfall recorded a year ago. Meanwhile, economists had expected the deficit to widen to EUR 6.7 billion.
In December, seasonally adjusted exports fell 0.9% month-on-month and imports dropped 3.9%. The adjusted trade deficit contracted to EUR 0.3 billion from EUR 4 billion deficit in November. Most economists were expecting the deficit to widen to EUR 5.3 billion.
Exports to Eurozone economies fell not seasonally adjusted 9% year-on-year to EUR 101.3 billion. However, the fall was slower than the revised decrease of 15% in November.
The Eurozone economy shrank in the fourth quarter at the fastest pace since records began in 1995. According to flash estimates published by Eurostat, the Eurozone GDP contracted 1.5% in the fourth quarter, larger than the 0.2% decline seen in the second and third quarters of 2008.