Trade deficit narrows further as exports continue to rise
The trade deficit widened further in the first quarter of the year, after two consecutive months of relative stability in imports and increase in exports, according to the statistical service Cystat.
Total imports/arrivals in January-March amounted to EUR 1,156.4 mln as compared to EUR 1,152.8 mln in January-March 2014.
Total exports/dispatches in January-March were EUR 519.2 mln compared to EUR 355.5 mln in the first quarter of 2014.
As a result, the trade deficit narrowed to EUR 637.2 mln in January-March this year compared to EUR 797.3 mln in the corresponding period of 2014.
Leading the list of imports was ‘mineral products’ with EUR 293.1 mln followed by ‘chemical or other industrial products’ with EUR 138.2 mln, and ‘foodstuffs, beverages, and tobacco’ with EUR 136.7 mln.
The European Union continued to be the main source of supply of goods to Cyprus accounting for 73% mainly from Greece, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom and Bulgaria. Imports from the rest of the world were dominated by Israel, China and India.
The biggest category of exports was ‘vehicles, aircraft, vessels and transport equipment’, followed by mineral and chemical products, suggesting these are re-exports, as Cyprus does not have a manufacturing or chemical sector, apart from cement.
The traditional categories of ‘live animals and animal products’, ‘foodstuffs, beverages and tobacco’ and ‘vegetable products’ only accounted for 7%, 5% and 4% of exports, respectively.
For the month of March alone, imports were unchanged year-on-year, at EUR 424.8 mln, while exports were up to EUR 156.0 mln in March 2015 compared with EUR 138.1 mln in March 2014.
The trend follows the January-February two-month period when the trade deficit narrowed by just over a quarter from a year earlier to EUR 368.6 mln from EUR 510.6 mln, with imports marginally up, but exports leaping about 60%, probably due to the re-export of liquid fuels from the Vitol-owned VTTV storage facility in Vassiliko that started work in December 2014.