Exports slumped 4.5 percent from a year earlier to EUR 96.1 billion in December, as sales to the EU declined 4.6 percent to EUR 55.2 billion, in particular Euro area (-4.1 percent to EUR 35.3 percent) and non-Euro area countries (-5.5 percent to EUR 19.9 percent). In addition, exports to countries outside the EU dropped 4.3 percent to EUR 40.9 billion.
Meanwhile, imports were nearly unchanged at EUR 82.1 billion. Purchases from the EU went up 1.2 percent to EUR 47.3 billion, driven by imports from the Euro area (3 percent to EUR 31.4 billion) while there were declines in imports from non-Euro area countries (-2.1 percent to EUR 15.9 billion). Also, imports from countries outside the EU fell 1.6 percent to EUR 34.8 billion.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, the trade surplus widened to EUR 19.4 billion in December from a downwardly revised EUR 18.9 billion in November and above market expectations of EUR 18.4 billion. Exports grew by 1.5 percent, easily beating market expectations of a 0.2 percent gain, while imports advanced at a softer 1.2 percent and way above forecasts of a 0.2 percent rise.
Considering 2018 full year, the trade surplus narrowed to EUR 227.8 billion from EUR 247.9 billion in the corresponding period of the previous year.