French trade deficit hits 60 billion euros in 2018 on energy imports

February 7, 2019

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s trade deficit widened last year as higher oil prices inflated the energy import bill, offsetting an increase in exports, the customs data showed on Thursday.

The deficit widened to 59.9 billion euros ($66.99 billion)from 57.8 billion euros as the energy import bill increased by 6.7 billion euros, the customs office said.

Nonetheless, increased aircraft deliveries and to a lesser extent higher drug and computer equipment shipments allowed exports to keep pace with imports as both grew 3.8 percent last year.

Excluding energy imports, the trade deficit in manufactured goods narrowed slightly to 33.3 billion euros from 35.7 billion in 2017.

In the month of December, the deficit eased to 4.6 billion euros from 4.8 billion the previous month, the customs office said, overshooting economists’ average expectation for 4.0 billion in a Reuters poll.

Separately, the central bank said France’s current account deficit narrowed to 1.1 billion euros from nearly three billion the previous month thanks to stronger revenues from services.

(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; editing by Richard Lough)

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