Exports hit record in 2011 but dropped in December

Exports registered annual growth of 9.7 percent at the end of 2011, the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) announced on Thursday, confirming the original forecasts by Greek exporters and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the latter of which had expected a 9.4 percent increase.

On the other hand, the fact that December saw a decline — for the third month in succession — of 0.2 percent on an annual basis, puts in doubt the real momentum of the country?s exports, which for the last year-and-a-half have constituted a lifeline for many Greek enterprises.

ELSTAT estimates that total exports in December, not including oil products, amounted to 1.45 billion euros. In the whole of 2011 exports reached a record level of 22.4 billion euros.

Imports in December, with oil products excluded, amounted to 2.3 billion euros, down from 2.9 billion euros in December 2010 — a decline of 21 percent. In the whole of the year imports contracted by 13.1 percent on an annual level.

Despite the growth in exports last year, they still trail imports considerably, adding to the country?s deficit, while the signs from the last three months of 2011 do not bode well at all for this year.