A lot less out, a lot less in
Exports and imports decreased 9.9 per cent and 7.4 per cent respectively in December and the trade surplus fell to EUR 143 million, the Central Statistical Office announced on Monday. For all 2012 the volume of external trade declined EUR 237 million to EUR 6.8 billion.
The export volume of telecommunications equipment dropped 20 per cent in 2012 and, in accordance with the change in domestic demand, imports of fuels and electric energy diminished (-5.3 per cent). The export volume of machinery and transport equipment fell 3.3 per cent, but the trade of road vehicles and general industrial machinery and equipment increased dynamically in both directions.
Hungary’s main foreign trade partner last year remained Germany for imports and exports, followed by, in order, Romania, Slovakia, Austria and Italy for exports, and Russia, Austria, China and Slovakia for imports. In the case of these countries, the largest export and import growth was in road vehicles, with Germany. Compared to 2011, the largest decrease was in imports of telecommunications equipment from China and in the exports of this same commodity to France.
Reading economy’s entrails
Analysts polled by state news agency MTI agreed that Hungary’s foreign trade performed weakly in 2012 but different opinions were voiced on what the future may bring. “This is the smallest annual surplus since 2009,” Bálint Török of brokerage house Buda-Cash said. The trade balance will likely stay in the black in 2013 but its volume will be heavily influenced by the performance of Germany as well as domestic automotive investments, he said.
Takarékbank senior analyst Gergely Suppan was more optimistic about this year: “The outlook of Hungary’s foreign trade is better than it was in 2012. The German economy clearly shows signs of expansion, which will have a positive effect on the country’s trade balance.”