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Economy in Brief

EMU Trade Flows Wither As Surplus Rises
by Robert Brusca  May 16, 2012

EMU imports and exports fell across nearly every category in March. The trade account was in surplus for the fifth month in a row and the sixth in the last seven. Exports fell by 0.9% m/m as imports contracted by 1.1% m/m. Both of these offset large gains the month before. For exports and imports 3-Mo, 6-Mo and 12-Mo growth rates continue to show positive values. There is acceleration in progress over this horizon as well even though the Yr/Yr trends are creeping slightly lower.

However on the export side manufacturing exports are slowing and on the import side manufactures are slowing and are contracting. That puts the short-terms and longer term trends at odds.

In terms of several key country trends, Germany shows sharply accelerating imports and exports over three months. France shows weak or decelerating exports against very strong imports which have surged over the recent three-months. The UK, an EU member with an independent currency, shows sharply negative growth rates for exports and imports over three-months with imports slightly weaker.

On balance the EMU trade picture is producing larger surpluses. But the flows are slowing on Yr/Yr trends. Shorter term trends show more life, but that is not reflected in the trends for manufacturing imports and exports. The trade picture remains muddled for the Euro-Area.

Euro-Area Trade Trends for Goods
  M/M% % SAAR  
  Mar-12 Feb-12 3M 6M 12M 12M Ago
Balance* 4,275 3,986 (2,997) 4,278 (1,801) 1,685
Exports
All Exp -0.9% 2.2% 11.3% 11.6% 7.6% 15.6%
Food and Drinks -1.7% 1.8% 3.4% 5.1% 2.4% 15.8%
Raw materials -0.8% -0.5% 14.9% 3.4% 9.7% 19.4%
Other -0.8% 2.3% 11.8% 12.4% 7.9% 15.5%
MFG -1.2% 3.1% 0.9% 10.0% 5.6% 13.4%
IMPORTS
All IMP -1.1% 3.2% 20.1% 8.0% 3.2% 15.6%
Food and Drinks -2.9% 2.9% -2.1% -0.5% 1.0% 17.6%
Raw materials 0.4% 2.6% 2.2% -5.1% -6.1% 31.3%
Other -1.0% 3.3% 22.9% 9.4% 3.9% 14.7%
MFG -2.5% 1.8% -1.2% -2.7% -4.7% 15.4%
*Eur mlns; mo or period average (SA, WDA)
Germany Mar-12 Feb-12 3M 6M 12M 12M Ago
Exports 0.9% 1.5% 26.0% 1.9% 2.2% 18.2%
Imports 1.2% 3.6% 32.6% 6.1% 3.4% 18.8%
France
Exports 1.0% 1.8% 1.9% -2.7% 7.7% 13.1%
Imports 2.7% 2.2% 19.9% 6.4% 6.6% 20.4%
EU: UK
Exports -3.4% 0.6% -7.1% 2.8% 0.1% 17.0%
Imports 0.0% 2.6% -8.9% 2.8% 5.0% 14.9%
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