Monday, November 10, 2008

Romania Jan-Sept trade deficit up 12.5 pct y/y

BUCHAREST, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Romania's January-September foreign trade deficit widened by 12.5 percent on the year to 16.9 billion euros ($21.68 billion), as exports exceeded import growth.

Data from the National Statistics Board showed on Monday that CIF (cost/insurance/freight) imports rose 15.9 percent on the year to 42.5 billion euros after a 14.6 percent eight-month increase. Exports were up 18.3 percent to 25.6 billion euros.

Data showed the September gap was up 36 percent at 2.3 billion euros.

Romania's external deficit boosted by a vast trade gap is its main economic headache, sparking talk of risks to the European Union new member's economic stability in the wake of global financial crisis.

Analysts said the trade data boosted hopes the current account gap growth might stabilise at last year's level of 14 percent of GDP or even below it, helped by improved exports structure and a weaker leu currency.

'Data are not bad at all, they show the trend is good and gives high chances for a slight improvement of the balance of payments, just under 14 percent of GDP this year,' said Ionut Dumitru, head of research at Raiffeisen Bank in Bucharest.

'The big growth in imports (in September) is generated by non-EU import rises ... most probably triggered by energy imports ahead of the winter season.'

At 0820 GMT, the leu traded weaker on the day at 3.7435/24 per euro, compared with a Friday close of 3.713 and an intra-day low of 3.7533, after ratings agency Fitch cut Romania's credit rating to 'junk' status, dealers said.

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