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Foreign trade deficit rises to €6.7bn in H1


In the first six months of 2011, Polish exports of goods were worth €66.7bn, while imports totalled €73.4bn, according to preliminary data from the Central Statistical Office (GUS). This translates into nominal increases of 14.6% y-o-y and 15.4% y-o-y, respectively. As a result, the country’s foreign trade deficit widened by 20.4% y-o-y and amounted to €6.7bn.

Poland’s trade balance with the European Union as well as with the wider category of developed countries improved somewhat over this period, showing surpluses of €8.6bn and €7.5bn, respectively. Meanwhile, the deficit in trade with developing countries increased slightly to €9.5bn, while the deficit with the countries of Southern and Eastern Europe widened by over 40% y-o-y to almost €4.7bn.

Of Poland’s main trading partners, by far the highest increase in exports was to Russia (up by 35.8% y-o-y), followed by the Czech Republic (up by 20.4% y-o-y) and Germany (up by 15% y-o-y). The latter country remained easily the biggest export partner, accounting for 26% of the total, up by 0.1 p.p. over a year earlier. By contrast, exports to France were up by a meagre 2.4% y-o-y, to Italy by 3.7% y-o-y, and to Spain by 5.1% y-o-y.

The biggest increase in imports was also with Russia (up by 31.4% y-o-y), followed by the Netherlands (up by 15.9% y-o-y), Germany (up by 15.8% y-o-y) and the Czech Republic (up by 13.7% y-o-y). On the other hand, imports from South Korea declined by 1.9% y-o-y.

By way of comparison, in 2010 as a whole the trade deficit amounted to €13.8bn, i.e. approximately 3.9% of GDP.

Latest surveys of business conditions and poorer macroeconomic figures from many countries indicate that following the expiry of stimulus measures, global growth began to slow down in the second quarter of the year. Economic activity was further undermined by the turmoil over the eurozone’s fiscal crisis. As a result, the German economy – the main recipient of Polish exports – also lost much of its momentum, with growth of 2.8% y-o-y in Q2, compared with 5% y-o-y in the preceding quarter. Under these circumstances, by the end of the first half of 2011 the flow of new export orders had weakened substantially.
We expect the deterioration in economic conditions and considerable uncertainty over the strength of the global recovery will have a negative impact on foreign trade figures also in the second half of the year, although export growth should remain in double-digit territory, thanks to the still relatively robust performance of the German economy and to a weak zloty. We forecast that in 2011 as a whole Polish exports of goods will grow by 13.9% and imports by 15.4%. As a result, the foreign trade deficit will amount to €17.3bn, i.e. about 4.5% of GDP.

Paweł Sionko
Senior Economist
PMR Publications

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