Italy’s Deficit Also Balloons

Italy posted a trade deficit with the rest of the world of 1.354 billion euros in April, widening sharply from a deficit of 155 million euros in the same month of 2004, national statistics office ISTAT said on Thursday. The deficit also increased from March, when it stood at 845 million euros.

Trade with European Union countries alone showed an April deficit of 368 million euros, compared with a 109 million euro deficit in April last year.

A 5.854 billion euro cumulative trade deficit with the rest of the world in the first four months of this year was the largest Jan-April deficit since at least 1991.

Italian imports from the rest of the world rose 6.5 percent year-on-year in April, far outstripping a 1.6 percent increase in exports. Imports from the EU in April were up 1.8 percent on the year, while exports were flat compared with the year before.
Source: Reuters via NTC Research

I don’t think I am being too alarmist if I say that something nasty is happening to the international competitiveness of Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal.

China Trade With EU

I’m not very happy with the ‘US Trade Figures‘ post I put up last Friday. I think it’s a glorious mess. The key to the problem is that I tried to deal with two – interrelated but disinct – topics at once: the euro and China trade. So today lets ignore the euro (which has once more resumed the downwards drift, even as I write) and take a bit of a closer look at where we are – in trade terms – with China. (Btw: the planet has finally returned to its orbit, and Brad Setser has an analysis of the US trade data here).

The big item in this weekend’s news is, of course, the agreement reached with Beijing on textiles. The EU textile industry will now have three years to adapt, but since textile manufacturers don’t appear to have taken too much advantage of the ten previous years, it is hard to know whether this will serve any useful purpose. Doubly so, since it is not yet clear how the calculations will be made, and I have the distinct impression that much of the recent surge in imports will now, in effect, be consolidated.

Be that as it may, what about the broader issue?
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