The seasonally adjusted trade deficit narrowed from E5.15 billion in October to E4.38 billion in November. This was the smallest shortfall since August but still points to a gradually deteriorating trend.
November's improvement reflected a 5.3 percent monthly bounce in exports, their first rise since August, to a near-record high of E38.811 billion. This was only partially offset by a 2.8 percent gain in imports. The recovery in the former was dominated by transport equipment, particularly aeronautics, and intermediate goods. What was the second successive advance in imports was more broad-based.
Having seen overall net exports hit quarterly economic growth in October-December by fully 0.6 percentage points, November's decline in the red ink on merchandise trade alone will come as a relief. Even so, the average shortfall in the first two months of the quarter was still 9 percent above the third quarter mean. Without a further marked improvement in December total net foreign trade is unlikely to have provided any significant support to real GDP growth last quarter.