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Greece Exports Hit Record High, but Jump in Imports Signals Warning

Greece Exports
Greece reported a record 20.5 billion euros in exports for the first five months of 2022, but the rapid rise in imports was also cause for concern. Credit: Greek Reporter

Greece exported a record 20.5 billion euros ($20.6 billion) worth of goods in the first five months of the year. However, a rise in imports and a decline in domestic consumer spending dampened the good news.

From January through May, the country reported its export total had exceeded 20 billion euros for the first time, surpassing the 15.2 billion euros ($15.3 billion) over the same period last year, according to the Exporters’ Association of Northern Greece. The data was compiled by the Hellenic Statistical Authority and processed by the Institute of Export Research and Studies of SEBE. The total has been on a steady increase from the 12.2 billion euros in 2020.

From January through May, all export sectors showed increases from the previous year. Those were: industrial, which jumped up by over 43 percent; food, up 18 percent; chemicals, up 8 percent; machinery and vehicles, up 33 percent; industrial products, up nearly 23 percent; raw materials, up 13.5 percent; beverages and tobacco, up 6.5 percent; and fats and oils, up 6.7 percent. Unclassified products were up over 40 percent.

May also showed strong numbers, according to the report. Exports for the month totaled 4.7 billion euros from 3.2 billion euros last May and 2.1 billion euros in May 2020.

Greece Import and Export Totals

But SEBE expressed concern about the rapid rise in imports to Greece, which outpaced exports in May, leading to a trade deficit. In May, imports totaled 7.8 billion euros compared to 4.9 billion euros in May 2021.

The positive exports news was also tempered by another January to May report that showed Greek shoppers have cut back on purchases as the costs of everyday goods continue to rise.

In the first five months of 2022, the number of sales at Greek supermarkets dropped by 3.1 percent as compared to last year from 3.340 billion euros ($3.36 billion) to 3.335 billion euros. This comes after five years of continuous growth in sales in the sector.

Inflation in Greece reached 12 percent in June from 10.5 percent in May and 9.1 percent in April. The rate is the highest recorded in Greece in the past 29 years.

For the first five months of the year, more than half of Greek exports, roughly 11.3 billion euros, went to European Union member states.

There are five products that Greece exports that traditionally account for about one quarter of its total exports. Those products—aluminum, feta cheese, marble, olive oil, and olives—were fairly resistant to the financial woes of Greece’s economy and their global market shares averaged about 2.5 percent during the financial crisis.

And from 2002 to 2020, Greek olive oil exports increased by 225 percent, according to a 2020 report by the Association of Olive Oil Producers. The actual volume of olive oil increased from 14,871 tons in 2002 to 52,735 in 2020.

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