IT: Merchandise Trade

Mon Sep 18 03:00:00 CDT 2017

Actual Previous Revised
Level E3.1B E4.1B E3.9B

The seasonally adjusted merchandise trade balance returned a E3.1 billion surplus in July after a downwardly revised E3.9 billion in June. This was its weakest outturn since February.

July's deterioration reflected a 1.4 percent monthly drop in exports, their third decline in the last four months, that was compounded by a 0.9 percent increase in imports. Exports were hit by an 8.8 percent decrease in energy but even excluding this category they were down 1.2 percent on the back of weakness in capital goods (minus 2.3 percent) and intermediates (minus 1.9 percent). Unadjusted annual export growth slipped from 8.2 percent to 5.1 percent while imports accelerated from 9.9 percent to 10.5 percent.

Total net exports had little impact on quarterly real GDP growth in April-June. However, while early days yet, July's marked reduction in the black ink warns that the external balance could have a negative effect this quarter. With domestic demand still struggling to gain momentum, this would not be good news for the economic recovery.

The merchandise trade balance measures the difference between imports and exports of goods. The level of the international trade balance, as well as changes in exports and imports, indicate trends in foreign trade and can offer a guide to an economy's competitiveness.

Changes in the level of imports and exports, along with the difference between the two (the trade balance) are a valuable gauge of economic trends here and abroad. While these trade figures can directly impact all financial markets, they primarily affect currency values in foreign exchange markets.

Separate reports are published for external and internal EU trade. The extra-EU trade data are compiled on the basis of customs declarations with non-EU countries. The intra-EU trade data (Intrastat) are derived from surveys and provide statistics on trade between Italy and other EU member states. The data are available monthly. World trade data are available within one month after the reference month while intra-EU trade data are available within 7 weeks after the reference month.