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Stats Office: Hungary Posted €814M Trade Surplus In September

Tamás Székely 2015.11.10.

Hungary’s trade surplus came to 814.0 million euros in September, a first reading of data released by the Central Statistical Office (KSH) shows. The surplus was down by 125.9 million euros in September from the same month a year earlier.

Exports climbed by 5.6% to 8.200 billion euros during the period and imports rose by 8.2% to 7.386 billion euros. In January-September, the trade surplus came to 6.121 billion euros, up by 1.084 billion from the same period last year. Exports rose by 7.2% to 67.586 billion euros and imports increased by 5.9% to 61.465 billion euros. Fully 76% of Hungary’s imports came from other European Union countries in September and 80% of exports went to them.

Analysts interviewed by news agency MTI attributed the substantial rise in imports to recovering domestic demand. András Balatoni of ING and Gergely Ürmössy of Erste both linked the fast import growth to the increase in private consumption. So far, the deterioration in the trade balance resulting from higher consumer goods imports has been offset by the low oil price, Balatoni said, adding that ING’s forecast for the full-year trade surplus in 2015 is 7.5 billion euros.

Ürmössy said he expected the trend of import growth exceeding export growth to continue in the remaining part of the year as well as next year. If the trade surplus does not grow any further in the coming period, that could suggest that the structure of the Hungarian economy has become healthier because its growth is less dependent on imports, he added. Gergely Suppan of Takarékbank forecast a full-year trade surplus of 7.9 billion euros in 2015 as the trade balance could improve further on low oil prices in the remaining part of the year.

Economy ministry deputy state secretary Zoltán István Marczinkó said exports were mainly driven by automotive industry output, adding however that several other sectors were now catching up with it. He told public news channel M1 that although details are still scarce after KSH’s first reading of data, he expects the pharmaceutical and plastics industries to have contributed significantly to the September trade surplus.

The state secretary attributed the increase in imports to retailers’ Christmas preparations and said that in order for stores to be fully stocked in November and December, they must start submitting orders in September. Marczinkó called it another possible reason for the increase that after scaling back production over the summer, Hungarian exporters restarted operations in September and needed to stock up on imported materials.

The Central Statistical Office (KSH) has also released fresh data on Hungary’s industrial output, which grew by an annual 7.8% in September. The index adjusted for the number of workdays also increased by 7.8%. In a month-onmonth comparison, industrial output rose by 2.9% according to seasonally and workday-adjusted data. In the first nine months of 2015, industrial output was up by 6.7% from a year earlier.

KSH official Miklós Schindele said vehicle manufacturing remained the main driver of industrial output growth in September. The month-onmonth rise followed respective drops of 2% and 0.7% in the previous two months, he added. Gergely Suppan of Takarékbank said full-year industrial output growth could exceed 7% in 2015 and predicted 5.5% growth for 2016. He said the outlook for Hungary’s automotive suppliers remains positive, adding that industrial output growth is expected to be substantial in the coming months due to base effects.

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