The seasonally adjusted trade deficit narrowed from a marginally smaller revised E5.85 billion in July to E4.51 billion in August, the least red ink since December 2016.
The headline improvement was due to a combination of stronger exports, which rose 1.4 percent on the month, and weaker imports, which fell 1.8 percent. The bounce in the former reflected strength in aeronautical and space shipments alongside better performances by both the agri-food and machinery sectors.
However, despite its narrowing in August, the average shortfall for July/August was still 4 percent up on the second quarter mean. This warns that total net exports last quarter are unlikely to come anywhere close to providing real GDP growth with another 0.6 percentage point boost as they did in April-June.