The pandemic has interrupted the growth course of Greek exports, but it also served to close the gap in the trade balance due to the slump in imports too.
On Tuesday both the Panhellenic Exporters Association (PSE) and the Institute of Exports Surveys and Studies of SEVE – the Greek Exporters Association – noted the 32.7% annual decline of Greek exports in May, as their value fell by about 1 billion euros from May 2019, ending up at €2.07 billion from €3.07 billion.
Even so there were two sectors that withstood the pressure: chemicals exports, which rose 20.3%, and olive oil, which was up 11.1%. Food and livestock exports weathered the pressure too, easing just 0.2%. They were the exceptions to the rule that had Greek products suffering from the restrictions imposed in Europe’s main economies. Even excluding fuel products, which sank 71.3% year-on-year, exports posted a 12.7% decline.
The other sectors that drove exports lower were raw materials (down 40.3%), industrial products (-28.3%), and tobacco and alcohol (-17.2%)
Nevertheless, imports showed an even greater decrease in May, by 39% year-on-year, so that the trade deficit shrank by a considerable 47.7% to amount to €1.16 billion against €2.22 billion a year earlier.
In the first five months of 2020 exports posted a 13.5% slump, totaling €12.1 billion against €14 billion last year. Imports decreased by €3.9 billion or 16.7%, so the trade deficit in January-May 2020 narrowed by €2.03 billion or 21.4% to €7.45 billion, against €9.49 billion in 2019.
According to SEVE, in the year’s first five months the food and livestock sector increased its exports by 10.2% or €196.2 million, resulting in food exports accounting for €2.1 billion in January-May 2020. The chemicals sector rose by 19.1% or €318.3 million in the same period to €1.98 billion. The olive oil sector posted a 43.6% annual increase, while raw material exports suffered a 27.6% yearly drop. Machinery and vehicles saw a 6.9% decline, while exports of various industrial products decreased 17.9%.
As far as destinations are concerned, the European Union states absorbed 57.6% of Greek exports in the January-May period, with third countries taking in the other 42.4%.