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EU: Trade Deficit Near Balance

At $0.15 billion, the Euro nations' trade deficit with the rest of the world came close to balance in June, the EU statistics agency said.

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- Euro nations' trade deficit with the rest of the world came close to balance in June, the EU statistics agency said Monday.

Eurostat said the 15 euro nations bought slightly more goods from trading partners than they sold during the month, posting a trade deficit of euro0.1 billion ($0.15 billion) in June, far lower than May's trade deficit of euro3.9 billion ($5.74 billion).

The euro-zone's energy import bill swelled hugely in the first five months of the year, Eurostat said, hitting euro155 billion ($228 billion) -- a 39-percent increase on January-May 2007. Food and drink imports also climbed 11 percent.

Overall, exports from January to May grew 8 percent from a year ago but this masks a 4-percent drop with its second-biggest foreign market, the United States, as the strong euro made German cars and French champagne far more expensive for American shoppers.

Trade with Britain, the euro-zone's No. 1 trade partner, grew just 2 percent during the same period as the British economy slowed and the euro rose against sterling.

Euro countries saw better results from trade with China -- up 15 percent -- and Russia which increased 22 percent. They also bought far more from Russia, with imports rising 23 percent, as oil and natural gas prices surged.

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