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French trade gap widens

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10:11 CEST+02:00

An increase in energy imports due to a cold snap in February sent France's trade deficit jumping by nearly 15 percent in February to hit €6.4 billion ($8.4 billion), customs data showed on Friday.

"In February, the increase in imports is in part due to energy purchases connected to the cold snap, which caused the deficit to widen to €6.398 billions from €5.593 billion in January," said the French customs service in a statement.

In addition to the cold weather, three oil refineries were shut for maintenance, also causing a spurt in imports, the customs service noted.

Imports rose to €43.6 billion in February and exports to €37.2 billion.

Exports were helped by good sales of manufactured items, as well as agricultural commodities and military equipment, noted the customs service.

Major deliveries of satellites and a rebound in vehicle exports also helped the monthly figures.

The 12-month trade deficit came in at €70.051 billion.

France posted a record trade deficit in 2011 of €70.104 billion.

France has a big structural trade deficit which is a central concern to policymakers, and contrasts with a big surplus by the leading eurozone economy, Germany.

A trade surplus is important because it contributes to growth of gross domestic product, while a trade deficit tends to be a drag on the economy.

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