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Eurozone back into trade deficit

BRUSSELS, Mar 18 – The eurozone flipped back into a trade deficit of 8.9 billion euros (12.1 billion dollars) in January, after posting a 4.1-billion-euro surplus in December, official data showed on Thursday.

The economy of the 16 nations that share the under-pressure euro currency posted a surplus of 22.3 billion euros for the whole of 2009, reversing a record deficit in 2008. January last year also began with a deficit, of 12.1 billion euros.

The Eurostat figures, a first estimate, also showed that the full, 27-nation European Union had a trade deficit of 22.5 billion euros, after a 2.5-billion-euro deficit in December.

Revised final figures for 2009 showed a smaller deficit for energy — 233.8 billion euros against 375.1 billion euros the previous year — and raw materials, with a lower surplus for machinery and vehicles but a higher surplus for chemicals.

EU trade flows with all major partners fell — except for China, with which exports grew by 4.0 percent, twice the initial estimate.

Exports to Russia collapsed by 37 percent compared to the corresponding period in 2008, with exports to Brazil, Turkey and the United States each falling by almost one fifth.

The EU surplus fell with the US by almost 50 percent, but the deficit with China narrowed to 133.1 billion euros, from 169.5 billion euros.

The largest surplus was to be found in the eurozone and EU\’s largest economy, Germany, at 135.8 billion euros.

Britain posted the largest deficit across the EU, at 92.6 billion euros, with France and Spain also heavily in the red.

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