BUSINESS

Trade deficit soared in April as exports continue to slide

DIMITRA MANIFAVA

TAGS: Economy

The decline recorded by Greek exports in the first quarter of 2016 continued in April, according to the data that the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) released on Tuesday. Combined with the rise in imports, the trade deficit soared in April and is likely to keep growing as the latest data show a slump in new orders for the international market.

ELSTAT’s provisional figures showed that the total value of Greek exports came to 2.10 billion euros in April, down 3.8 percent from 2.18 billion in April 2015. Excluding fuel, exports posted a 2.2 percent annual increase.

The value of imports in April reached 4.16 billion euros, which was 7.1 percent higher than the 3.88 billion euros recorded a year earlier. When fuel is excluded, the increase comes to 26.5 percent. Consequently, the trade deficit grew 21 percent from April 2015, while if fuel products are taken out of the equation, the yearly rise amounts to 57.7 percent.

In the year to end-April, the total value of exports excluding fuel rose by just 0.5 percent year-on-year, compared to an increase of 15.2 percent recorded in the first four months of 2015. However, when fuel is included, there was a yearly drop of 7.5 percent to 7.83 billion euros from 8.46 billion in the January-April 2015 period. Excluding fuel, the trade deficit in the first four months of the year rose 20.8 percent from 2015.

This comes as export companies are being battered by industrial action, this time by striking port workers in the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki. The Greek International Business Association (SEVE) has warned of a very negative impact on exports from the situation at the country’s two main ports. The majority of enterprises are either unable to deliver their products or are managing to do so with great delays and at an increased cost due to using other, more expensive means.

SEVE data show that the product categories where exports posted the biggest drops in the January-April period were raw materials (down 13 percent), oils and fats (2 percent) and industrial products (6.8 percent).

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