French official trade deficit rises to record in May

PARIS, July 7, 2011 (AFP) - The French trade balance showed a record deficit in May, the third such record so far this year, data from the customs service showed on Thursday.

The deficit for May amounted to 7.42 billion euros ($10.6 billion), taking the cumulative deficit in the 12 months to the end of May to 63.42 billion euros compared with a deficit of 51.56 billion euros for the whole of 2010.

France has shown a structural trade deficit in recent years, and the figures are a matter of concern for policymakers and for analysts.

The figures are of particular significance since France's key trading partner and mainstay of the eurozone economy, Germany, is showing strong economic growth driven in part by a trade surplus.

The previous record monthly deficit in France was in April when the figure totalled 7.17 billion euros, after a slight reduction on revision from the first estimate.

In May, exports amounted to 34.18 billion euros. Exports of industrial goods again fell owing to what the customs service described as a "persistent fall" in equipment for transportation such as aircraft in May and autos in April.

However a strong performance by agro and food industries and a rebound of auto sales and of steel products contained the deficit in May, the service said.

Imports amounted to 41.6 billion euros in May, when imports of refined oil products remained high.

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