Imports advanced 1.6 percent from a year ago to EUR 24.41 billion in December, mainly driven by higher purchases of energy products (17 percent) and chemicals (8.1 percent while capital goods declined (-6.7 percent).
Among major trading partners, imports went up from China (3.6 percent) and the US (1.8 percent), but decreased from the UK (-0.8 percent) and the Euro Area (-3.8 percent), namely France (-13.1 percent), Germany (-1.8 percent) and Italy (-4.2 percent).
Exports fell 3.7 percent to EUR 21.17 billion in December, mostly due to lower sales of raw materials (-26.2 percent); energy products (-9.4 percent); non-chemicals semi-manufactures (-9.3 percent), automotive sector (-20.3 percent), consumption manufactures (-3.3 percent) and food, beverages and tobacco (-1.0 percent). On the other hand, exports increased for capital goods (10.4 percent); durable consumer goods (4.8 percent) and chemicals (1.6 percent).
Among major trading partners, sales dropped to the Euro Area (-3.9 percent), of which France (-9.1 percent), Italy (-1.5 percent) and Portugal (-2.7 percent) while exports to Germany rose (0.6 percent). Sales also decreased to the UK (-8.5 percent), the US (-11.2 percent) and China (-8.0 percent).
Considering full 2018, the trade shortfall increased to EUR 33.84 billion, the largest since 2011, from EUR 26.29 billion in the same period of 2017 as imports went up 5.6 percent to EUR 318.86 billion and exports rose 2.9 percent to EUR 285.02 billion.