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Hungary 2011 trade surplus revised slightly down

Hungary had a trade surplus of €325 million in December and ran a full-year surplus of €6.886 billion for 2011, the Central Statistics Office (KSH) said on Friday, revising a first reading down by €27 million and €71 million, respectively.

The December surplus was little less than half of the surplus in November and was down €89 million yr/yr.

The full-year surplus widened €1.371 billion from €5.515 billion recorded in 2010.

December exports dropped 1.1% yr/yr in euro terms, slightly more than in the first reading. Import growth slowed to 0.4%, less than in the preliminary report.

Exports declined in euro terms in December, falling year-on-year for the first time in two years.

In volume terms, December exports were up 2.4% yr/yr against a drop in euro terms. December import volume fell 1.2% yr/yr in contrast with a rise in euro terms, reflecting deteriorating terms of trade.

KSH revised the 2011 euro-term trade growth slightly up from the first reading, with export rising 11.8% and imports climbing 10.8%.

Export volumes rose 10.2% last year and import volume was up 6.9%. Both increases were under the respective euro-term increase.

Hungary's terms of trade deteriorated 2.0% in 2011 as export prices rose 2.9% in forint terms while forint-term import prices rose 5%.

The forint weakened 1.4% to the euro and strengthened 3.5% to the US dollar in 2011 compared to 2010. In December, the forint weakened 9.7% to the euro and slipped 10.1% to the dollar compared to one year earlier.

Hungary's exports totaled €5.888 billion in December and €79.909 billion for 2011. Imports were worth €5.563 billion in December alone, and totaled €73.023 billion for the full year.

KSH attributed the double-digit rise in trade last year mainly to the automotive sector. Export and import volume of machinery and vehicles rose almost 20% yr/yr in the first quarter, after which export growth slowed into the single digits and import volume remained around that in the base period. The developments reflected movements in telecommunications equipment and recording equipment, with TV sets and spare parts showing the steepest fall, KSH noted.

Export volume rose 15.4% and import volume was up 12% in manufactured goods. Trade volumes of pharmaceuticals rose at double-digit rates for all but one or two months. 

Energy import volume rose 3.8%, while prices were up more than 20%. Crude oil and oil products import volume increased at double-digit rates in H1 but dropped slightly in H2, when gas exports rose a bit after a 20% decline in H1.

Export volume of food, beverages and tobacco products hardly changed last year. Import volume of the products rose 5%, but growth rates dropped from quarter to quarter. Grain and grain product exports, the biggest item among food, was down more than 10% in volume, while prices rose almost 40%. 

Hungary's exports to the EU-15 rose 6.3% in volume terms and climbed 7.3% in euro terms to €43.76 billion. Import volume from the EU-15 rose 9.5% and increased 12.3% in euro terms to €37.86 billion. 

Exports to new EU member states rose 12.1% in volume terms and increased 17.5% in euro terms to €17.06 billion Imports from these countries rose 12.2% in volume terms and 16.7% in euro terms to €12.86 billion.

The surplus with the EU-15 narrowed €1.17 billion to €5.90 billion, while the surplus with other new EU members widened €697 million to €4.21 billion.

Exports to European countries outside of the European Union rose 18% in volume terms and increased 10.4% in euro terms to €9.36 billion. Imports were flat in volume terms, but rose 25.3% -- most likely on rising energy prices -- to €9.20 billion, reducing the Hungarian surplus by almost €1 billion to just €159 million. 

Hungary's exports to Asian countries rose by almost one-third to €6.02 billion, but imports from these countries fell 12.8% to €10.60 billion, causing the country's trade deficit with these countries to narrow by almost €3 billion to €4.58 billion in 2011.