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May 30, 2017

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Spain slashes trade deficit as exports grow

MADRID--Spain slashed its trade deficit by nearly a fifth year-on-year in January as strengthening exports by Spanish firms boosted a timid recovery in the eurozone's fourth-biggest economy, the government said.

The shortfall of exports to imports in goods and services fell by 19.5 percent compared to January 2103 to 2.8 billion euros (US$3.9 billion), the economy ministry said in a statement.

Exports grew in January by 3.1 percent compared to a year earlier to reach 18.4 billion euros while imports declined by 0.6 percent to 21.3 billion euros, it said.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative government is banking on exports to be an engine of recovery for Spain, which crawled out of recession in the second half of 2013.

Over that year, Spain's trade deficit fell by almost half to 15.9 billion euros as exports hit a record high due to Spanish firms pushing into new markets outside Europe, officials said last month.

Spain's economy shrank by 1.2 percent overall in 2013, however, as the nation struggled with the aftermath of a decadelong property bubble that imploded in 2008.

The government predicts the economy will expand by about one percent this year.

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