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Spain’s trade deficit falls 68.8 percent in first quarter

Exports were valued at 118.7 billion euros, up 8 percent from the same six-month period of 2012

Spain’s trade deficit fell by 68.8 percent in the first half of 2013 to 5.8 billion euros, the Economy Ministry said on Thursday.

Exports were valued at 118.7 billion euros, up 8 percent from the same six-month period of 2012, while imports fell 3.2 percent to 124.5 billion euros, secretary of state for trade Jaime García-Legaz said.

“Spain had not exported that much since 1971,” he added.

The export-import cover ratio (exports as a percentage of imports) stood at 95.3 percent for the first six months of 2013, 9.8 percentage points higher than in the same period of last year.

The sharply lower trade deficit was due to a 9.5-percent increase in the total number of exporting companies, as well as the improved competitiveness of Spanish enterprises and their greater ability to reach new markets, including ones outside the euro zone, García-Legaz said.

Weak internal demand

Imports were down “in part” due to weakness in internal demand, according to the Economy Ministry official, alluding to Spain’s unemployment rate of more than 26 percent, although he said import substitution also played a role.

Spain posted a small trade deficit in June of 106.7 million euros, down sharply from a 2.7-billion-euro deficit in the same month of 2012.