European Union sees trade surplus after six quarters of deficit

by Shura Guseva

After a string of six quarters in the red, the European Union’s trade balance has swung back into surplus, largely attributed to a dip in energy prices. This is as per the findings from Eurostat, the European Union’s statistical office.

In a noticeable turnaround from a €155 billion deficit in Q3 2022 – its steepest since 2019 – the EU logged a modest trade surplus of €1 billion in Q2 2023. This shift was catalyzed by a 2.0% contraction in exports coupled with a 3.5% reduction in imports during the same period.

A closer look reveals that the drop in non-EU imports for Q2 2023 stems from a significant 15.6% decrease in energy and a 10.9% downtick in raw materials when compared to the first quarter. On the exports front, a general decline was observed across sectors, the lone exception being machinery & vehicles, which saw a 2.5% uptick.

The energy and raw materials sectors marked the steepest export reductions, posting declines of 22.5% and 9.3% respectively. In the realm of specific trade sectors, Q2 2023 saw the EU amass a trade surplus of €15.6 billion in food, drinks, and tobacco, and a substantial €48.5 billion in the chemical sector.

Notably, the trade balance for machinery and vehicles grew for the third successive quarter, peaking at €52.4 billion, although this is yet to rival the record high of €60.7 billion seen in Q1 2019. On the energy front, trade figures showcased a marked improvement. The deficit shrank from €115.3 billion in Q1 2023 to a lesser €100.0 billion in Q2.

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