The trend of imports and exports in the euro zone will show a marked slowdown in 2023 and then increase in dynamism in 2024, according to forecasts by the European Central Bank (ECB).
On the one hand, the increase in exports was 10.9% in 2021 and 7.4% in 2022, while the ECB expects this indicator to be 2.7% in 2023.
In the near term, euro area export growth is expected to pick up, supported by improving foreign demand as the impact of supply bottlenecks disappears.
Following declines over the past two quarters, euro area real exports are estimated to rise in line with the easing of supply bottlenecks and increased demand for euro area travel services.
These factors are also projected to offset the recent deterioration in euro area price competitiveness.
Nevertheless, price competitiveness remains considerably better than before the pandemic.
Consequently, the ECB expects euro area exporters to continue to gain market shares.
Trend of imports
At the same time, euro area import growth is expected to be weak in the short term due to subdued energy imports and weak domestic demand, but to pick up in the medium term as domestic demand recovers.
Overall, the combination of lower imports and higher exports implies a positive contribution of net trade to GDP growth in 2023.
Falling energy prices have led to an improvement in the euro area’s real terms of trade in the near term, and modest further gains are expected over the forecast horizon.
Furthermore, the ECB forecasts that the improvement in the terms of trade will contribute to an increase in the euro area current account balance, which is expected to pick up in 2023 and improve slightly in 2024 and 2025.
Sequentially, euro area imports grew 8.6% in 2021 and 8.4% in 2022 and are projected by the ECB to grow 1.4% in 2023.
Compared to the March 2023 projections, projected real GDP growth for the euro area has been revised downward by 0.1 percentage points for 2023 and 2024, but remains unchanged for 2025.