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Coronavirus latest: US retail sales growth cools in August

Martin Arnold

Exports from the eurozone rose for the fourth consecutive month in July, but they remained more than 10 per cent below last year’s levels and the rebound from the coronavirus pandemic seems to be losing momentum.

One bright spot for the eurozone — which is the biggest exporter of goods and services in the world — has been trade with China, which overtook the US as the bloc’s biggest trade partner in the first seven months of this year.

Eurozone exports to and imports from China have already bounced back above pre-pandemic levels, unlike those to most other countries: trade with the US and the UK is still down heavily since the start of the year.

Overall, there were €174.2bn of exports from the eurozone in July, a rise of 6.5 per cent from the previous month, according to data published by Eurostat on Wednesday. However, that is the smallest monthly rise since the rebound from the pandemic started in April.

Daniela Ordonez, economist at Oxford Economics, forecast that the recovery in eurozone trade was likely to be weighed down as the “threat of a second wave of contagions looms in Asia and parts of Europe”.

“But on top of the delicate health situation, the risk of trade tensions flaring up again in the midst of the US elections and the deadlocked Brexit talks also undermine the export outlook,” Ms Ordonez added.

Eurozone imports rose 4.2 per cent from June to July, but they remain 14.3 per cent below the same month last year. The bloc’s trade surplus rose to €20.3bn, returning to last year’s level.

Trade between eurozone countries rose for the fifth consecutive month in July, but it remains 8.6 per cent below the level of a year ago.

The OECD said on Wednesday that global air freight in July was still down 15 per cent year-on-year, while container port traffic has recovered close to last year’s levels.

Underlining how hard global trade has been hit by the fallout from the virus, total exports from the eurozone in the seven months to July were down 12.4 per cent from the same month last year.

In that period, only exports of food and drink and chemicals from the eurozone have grown from the previous year, while energy exports were down 38 per cent, machinery and vehicle exports fell 18 per cent and other manufactured goods exports dropped 15.8 per cent.

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