Budapest, February 8 (MTI) – Hungary’s trade surplus came to 643.2 million euros in December 2015, a first reading of data released by the Central Statistical Office (KSH) on Monday shows.
The surplus was up 397.7 million euros from the same month a year earlier. Exports climbed by 7.3 percent in twelve months to 6.805 billion euros in December and imports rose by 1.0 percent to 6.162 billion euros.
In the full year 2015, the trade surplus reached 8.098 billion euros, up by 1.824 billion euros from the same period last year. Exports rose by 7.4 percent to 90.721 billion euros and imports increased by 5.6 percent to 82.624 billion euros.
About 76 percent of Hungary’s imports came from other European Union countries in December and 75 percent of exports went to EU member states.
Takarekbank senior analyst Gergely Suppan told MTI that Hungary’s trade surplus well exceeded expectations in December and rose to a historic record in the full year 2015. He noted that while export growth, at 7.3 percent, was in line with their expectations, import growth slowed to 1.0 percent, largely due to falling oil and gas prices. The analyst said the trade surplus grew by almost 700 million euros in the fourth quarter, thus, net exports could have made a substantial contribution to GDP growth in the last quarter of 2015. This supports Takarekbank’s expectation that the quarterly GDP growth data, due out later this week, could again show significant acceleration.
Suppan said the trade surplus could approach 8.7 billion euros, possibly exceeding 9 billion euros, depending on how low oil prices will fall or whether they will remain at their current level for a sustained period. Risks to exports include the slowdown of the Chinese and other emerging economies.
The massive trade surplus and the consequent high external financing capacity could phase out Hungary’s net external debt in the coming years, significantly reducing the foreign exposure of the country, he said.
Gergely Urmossy of Erste Bank forecast annual trade surplus of around 8 billion euros for 2016. He said that import growth slowed probably temporarily in December, noting the quicker pace of increase in the past months and the high import content of consumption and investments.
Given the large 2015 trade surplus, the current account surplus could have reached 5 percent of GDP last year, Urmossy said.