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Euro zone exports and imports plunge

  Euro zone exports plunged by a quarter in February against a year earlier and imports contracted by more than a fifth, underlining the severity of the global trade slump amid a deepening economic crisis.

Exports from the 16 countries using the euro to nations outside the currency bloc plummeted 24% to €99.2 billion and imports tumbled 21% to 101.2 billion, the European Union’s statistics office, Eurostat, said.

This produced an external trade deficit of 2.0 billion euros in seasonally non-adjusted terms against a surplus of 1.7 billion euros a year before.

Seasonally adjusted, the gap was even bigger at 4 billion euros, Eurostat data showed, versus an adjusted 5.4 billion in January. Exports rose 0.5% from January to 103.3 billion and imports fell 0.8% to an adjusted €107.2 billion.

A detailed breakdown for February was not yet available, but January data showed the trade gap in energy shrank to €17.3 billion from 26.5 billion in January 2008 but also the surplus in machinery and vehicles trade halved to 5.8 billion.

The euro zone’s surplus with its biggest trading partner, Britain, fell to €3.5 billion in January from 4.9 billion a year before and more than halved to 1.8 billion with the United States.

The euro zone’s trade deficit with China stayed virtually unchanged from a year earlier at €11.4 billion in January and shrank to 2.7 billion from 4.6 billion with Russia, which supplies a large part of the area’s oil and gas. (Reuters)