Italy's trade surplus surges, Spain's shrinks in drive for growth
Italy's trade surplus rose to 2.6 billion euros ($3.6 billion) in February thanks to a sharp increase in exports within Europe, particularly of cars, official data showed on Wednesday.
Eurozone countries hit by the debt crisis and economic downturn focused particularly on generating export-led recovery, as a way of boosting later household consumption and economy growth overall.
The pattern of trade data shows that this trend is being achieved, led by Ireland.
Italy, with the third-biggest economy in the eurozone after Germany and France, is striving to introduce reforms to strengthen its economy and competitiveness, and to underpin its widely based exporting industries.
In Spain, the eurozone's next-biggest economy, official data showed that the trade deficit jumped by more than a third in February compared to the almost 20-year low it hit a year earlier.
Italy's exports were up 3.0 percent in value on a 12-month comparison, with a 5.3-percent increase for exports in the European Union.
Export volumes also rose by 3.7 percent, the Istat agency said.
Imports meanwhile contracted by 2.2 percent on a 12-month comparison because of the crisis and a fall in consumer spending.
Asia, including Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, showed the biggest rise in imports from Italy, along with also major increases in sales to Belgium, Britain, China, Germany and the United States.
The biggest rise in exports was for the carmakers, which saw a 13.9 percent in crease from February 2013, Istat said.
Meanwhile Spain's economy ministry on Wednesday said the company's trade deficit -- the shortfall of exports to imports in goods and services -- grew by 1.6 billion euros in February.
That's 37 percent higher than in February 2013, when the trade deficit reached its lowest level for the second month of the year since 1995.
Spain's trade deficit fell by almost half to 15.9 billion euros last year as exports hit a record high due to Spanish firms pushing into new markets outside Europe.
Exports from the eurozone's fourth-largest economy increased by 4.9 percent to 19.3 billion from a year earlier in February, official data showed.
But its imports rose faster, growing by 6.9 percent to 20.9 billion euros over the same period.
© 2014 AFP