Economy & Politics

Covid-19 Anesthetizes International Trade

From January to April 2020, Luxembourg decreased by about a third the total of its exports and imports of commercial goods, according to the Eurostat barometer published on Monday. A general collapse across the EU, which is explained by the effects of the global health crisis.

Jean-François COLIN

Jean-François COLIN

From January to April 2020, Luxembourg decreased by about a third the total of its exports and imports of commercial goods, according to the Eurostat barometer published on Monday. A general collapse across the EU, which is explained by the effects of the global health crisis.

The impact of the confinement and closing of the borders caused by the coronavirus pandemic on the trade in goods has been significant. Luxembourg in particular, drank a great deal during the first third of 2020, with a negative trade balance of -1.8 billion euros for the period from January to April. According to the latest estimates released Monday by Eurostat, total exports have plummeted by 34% compared to the same period in 2019, the worst score among the 27 EU member states ahead of the France-Slovakia-Cyprus trio (-16%).

At the same time, the Grand Duchy experienced a drop in 29% of its imports (and even … 65% considering only imports from outside the EU), the largest decrease within the EU behind Malta (-31%). In April alone, Luxembourg posted the most significant drop in imports among the 27, with a decline of 42% compared to April 2019.


Report opening hours of stores, photo: Caroline Martin

As a direct result of the confinement put in place all over Europe, the activity recorded in April within the EU fell sharply, Eurostat said on Thursday. Luxembourg is no exception to this slump and has posted one of the most significant falls, with a decline of almost 25%.


Even if certain countries have weathered the crisis better than others – + 6% of exports for Ireland, 0% for Denmark -, this vertiginous fall in trade flows is also reflected across Europe. Exports of goods outside the EU fell 28.2% in April compared with April 2019, while at the same time imports fell 22.7%, posting a surplus of 0.2 billion d ‘euros.

Among the EU’s main trading partners, it is mainly India (-19.2%) and the United Kingdom (-19.1%) which crystallized the decline in exports outside the EU, while imports from Russia (-26.9%), Norway (-20.5%) and the United Kingdom (-13.2%) suffered the most from the crisis.

Energy transfers at the lowest

In terms of trade between countries of the European Union, they amounted to 175.2 billion euros for April 2020, a vertiginous drop of 32% compared to April 2019. On the whole of the first quarter of 2020, the decline was -10.2%.

Finally, considering the main products concerned, it appears that energy-related products (-27.6%) as well as machinery and vehicles (-14.9%) fell the most in exports outside the EU . Conversely, energy imports into the EU fell by 26.6%.


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