Exports increased EUR 398 million, or 4 percent, from the previous year to EUR 9.81 billion in December, due to higher sales of organic chemicals (53 percent) and medical and pharmaceutical products (16 percent). By contrast, exports of electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances dropped 46 percent.
The EU accounted for EUR 5.47 billion, or 56 percent, of total goods exports in December, an increase of EUR 587 million, or 12 percent, compared with a year ago. Exports to Belgium were EUR 1.62 billion and to Germany were EUR 1.13 billion. Exports to non-EU countries decreased by EUR 189 million, or 4 percent, over the same period. The US was the main non-EU destination accounting for EUR 2.46 billion, or 25 percent, of total exports in December.
Meanwhile, imports fell EUR 150 million, or 2 percent, to EUR 6.42 billion compared with December 2016. Purchases of other transport equipment, including aircraft declined 37 percent, while those of chemicals and related products increased 44 percent.
The EU accounted for EUR 4.04 billion, or 63 percent, of the value of goods imports in December, with EUR 1.56 billion, or 24 percent, coming from the UK. Imports from the EU decreased by EUR 325 million, or 7 percent, in December, while those from non-EU countries increased by EUR 175 million, or 8 percent.
In 2017, the trade surplus narrowed slightly to EUR 45.25 billion from EUR 45.16 billion in the previous year. Exports rose 2 percent to an all-time high of EUR 122.14 billion, mainly boosted by medical and pharmaceutical products (17 percent) and food and live animals (12 percent); and imports increased 4 percent to a record EUR 76.89 billion, due to higher purchases of chemicals and related products (16 percent) and mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials (24 percent). Among major trading partners, exports rose to the UK (8 percent), the US (4 percent) and the EU (4 percent); while imports grew from the UK (10 percent) and the EU (3 percent).