The merchandise trade deficit narrowed by 30.8% y/y to EUR96.6m in February, according to data published by the stat office on Monday. Exports increased by 6.2% y/y, underpinned by the strengthening demand from key export partners. The biggest contribution to the increase came from exports of mineral products, which surged by 41.6% y/y, boosted by higher commodity prices. Moreover, food exports went up by 10.2% y/y, in spite of the weak harvest in 2016. Tangible growth rates were also reported by exports of chemical (up by 33.5% y/y) and wood products (up by 11.8% y/y). The main exports partners were Finland (16% of total exports), followed by Sweden (14%). Russia ranked fourth after exports to the country rose by 38% y/y and accounted for 6% of total exports.
On the import side, total imports rose by 1.3% y/y slowing down from 8.0% y/y in January. The growth was driven by higher imports of mineral products (up by 27.9% y/y), wood (up by 18.5%) and chemical products (up by 8.5% y/y), which were likely boosted by increase of re-exports. On the other hand, machinery imports fell by 13.8% y/y, implying that the more significant recovery of investment activity is yet to come. Vehicle imports dropped by 1.0% y/y, after nearly tripling in the month before. The main import trade partners were Finland (13% of total imports), Germany (11%) and Sweden (9%).
The merchandise trade deficit amounted to EUR2.1bn (9.8% of GDP) in Jan-Feb, compared to EUR294.7m (1.4%) in the corresponding period a year ago. Exports rose by 10.2% y/y on the back of higher exports of mineral, chemical and wood products. Meanwhile, imports were up by 19.2% y/y largely due to the one-off transactions with vehicles.