The eurozone countries went from a trade surplus (more exports than imports) to a large deficit (more imports than exports) in just one year. This is evidenced by the new figures from Eurostat on Tuesday. The trade deficit with the rest of the world was 25 billion euros in June. In the same month last year, that was still a surplus of about 20 billion.
The reason for the shift is energy imports. As a result of Western sanctions against Russia, the Kremlin decided to slowly close the gas tap to Europe. This means that energy is now several times more expensive than last year.
As a result, euro countries pay much more for their imported energy. In the first half of 2021, the cost of imported energy amounted to 150 billion euros, and this year it amounted to 376 billion euros in the same months. The trade deficit in energy products was nearly three times larger.
Expensive energy is reflected in the EU’s trade balance with Russia, which is where most of the oil and gas come from. EU countries imported 120 billion euros worth of Russian products in the first six months of the year, compared to 68 billion euros in the same period last year.
It is also noted that the EU countries got much more money than Norway. Norwegian Energy is one of the (partial) alternatives to Russian gas. The bloc countries imported 28 billion euros of Norwegian products in the first half of 2021, i.e. 68.2 billion euros in the same months of this year.
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