Exports jumped 17.9 percent from the previous year to an all-time high of 12.79 billion in November of 2018, boosted by higher sales of chemicals and related products (28.4 percent), led by medical and pharmaceutical products (31.3 percent) and organic chemicals (27.9 percent). In addition, exports rose for machinery and transport equipment (4.7 percent) and miscellaneous manufactured articles (10.4 percent).
Shipments to the EU grew 21.2 percent to EUR 6.28 billion, representing 49.1 percent of total exports, of which EUR 1.51 went to Belgium and EUR 1.33 billion to Great Britain. The US was the largest non-EU destination accounting for EUR 3.86 billion, or 30.1 percent of total exports.
Meanwhile, imports went up at a softer 10.5 percent to EUR 7.98 billion, mainly due to higher purchases of machinery and transport equipment (19.4 percent), particularly other transport equipment, including aircraft (22.6 percent) and office machines & automatic data processing machines (46.1 percent). On the other hand, imports of chemicals and related products decreased 8.9 percent, dragged down by Medical and pharmaceutical products (-31.3 percent).
Imports from the EU rose 12.1 percent to EUR 4.5.9 billion in November, accounting for 57.5 percent of total goods purchases. Also, imports from Great Britain went up 6.7 percent to EUR 1.8 billion and those from France increased 18.5 percent to EUR 1.1 billion. The US with EUR 1.39 billion, or 17.5 percent, and China with EUR 0.5 billion, or 6.6 percent, were the main non-EU sources of imports.
Considering the January to November period, the trade surplus widened to EUR 47.31 billion from EUR 40.39 billion, as sales grew 14 percent to EUR 128.47 billion and purchases rose 12.3 percent to EUR 81.16 billion.