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Eurozone’s trade surplus widened in 2016

Eurozone’s trade surplus widened in 2016

BERLIN: The eurozone’s surplus in its trade in goods with the rest of the world rose in 2016, as its exports were unchanged and its imports declined.

The European Union’s statistics agency said Wednesday that eurozone exports exceeded imports by 273.9 billion euros($290.3 billion) last year, a widening of that gap from EUR238.7 billion in 2015.

Exports were broadly unchanged over 2016, but picked up in the final months of the year. Eurostat said the currency area’s trade surplus in December widened to EUR28.1 billion from EUR24.4 billion in the same month of 2015.

Adjusted for seasonal effects, exports rose by 2.8% from November, while imports increased by 1.7%, leaving a surplus of EUR24.5 billion, a widening from EUR22.2 billion in November.

The pickup in exports provided a support to the currency area’s still modest recovery and likely reflected a weakening of the euro against the dollar over recent months.

The outlook for eurozone trade in 2017 is clouded by uncertainty about U.S. trade policy under President Donald Trump. Peter Navarro, the head of Mr. Trump’s new National Trade Council, has said German exporters have an unfair advantage because of the euro’s weak exchange rate.

There are also worries that eurozone exports to the U.K. may suffer as a result of the weaker pound and an anticipated slowing of demand in one of the currency area’s largest overseas markets.

Eurostat didn’t give figures for the eurozone’s trade surplus with the U.S., although it did record flows for the EU as a whole, of which the eurozone is the largest part. In 2016, the EU’s surplus narrowed to EUR115.3 billion from EUR122.0 billion in 2015, with its exports to the U.S. falling more sharply than its imports from the world’s largest economy.