Goods from Lower Austria worth 14.6 billion euros were exported abroad in the first half of 2022, an increase of almost 24% compared to the same period in 2021. The value of imports also increased, by 24.5 percent to 17.4 billion euros. Both the value of exports and imports reached their highest level in five years in the first half of 2022, according to current figures from Statistics Austria.
Provincial Economic Councilor Jochen Danninger (ÖVP), Economic Chamber of Lower Austria Wolfgang Ecker and Industrial Representative of Lower Austria President Thomas Salzer speak of a “brilliant” development in view of these figures. “Exports are and will continue to be an important economic engine and are essential for the creation of value, jobs and prosperity in our country”, they all agree.
Merchandise exports decreased in volume
In truth, however, the numbers say little about the state of value creation in domestic foreign trade. The reason for the record values that exist in all federal states is high inflation, emphasizes Tobias Thomas, managing director of Statistics Austria. “The development of foreign trade is driven mainly by the increase in prices, while the quantities exported and imported fell in almost all states of the federation”, says Thomas.
This is also the case for Lower Austria: in the first half of 2022, Lower Austria exported almost 250 million kilograms less of goods than in the same period of 2021. With the exception of the first half of 2020, when many international trade routes were blocked due to strict corona measures, this number corresponds to the lowest total of goods exported since five years. The situation is similar with imported quantities.
Lower Austria: second largest external trade deficit
Provincial Economic Counselor Jochen Danninger describes the domestic export economy as “very resilient and competitive”, Lower Austria being a “country of exporters”. However, Lower Austria again registered a significant deficit in the trade balance in the first half of 2022, i.e. the value of imports exceeded the value of exports. The export of goods, therefore, injected less money into the domestic coffers than was necessary for the importation.
Lower Austria occupies eighth place in this ranking with a deficit of negative 2.82 billion euros in the comparison between countries, only Vienna had an even greater external trade deficit (-13.73 billion euros). In contrast, the situation is very different in Upper Austria (+€4.77 billion), Styria (+€3.12 billion), Vorarlberg (+€1.5 billion) and Carinthia (+18 .56 million euros). During the analyzed period, these federal states earned more money with exports of goods than they spent on imports.
Germany remained the most important trading partner
Germany continued to be the most important trading partner for the national economy, followed by Hungary, Italy and, for the first time, the USA. Machines were mainly exported, while expensive fossil fuels were bought from abroad.
They are also responsible for the fact that the country is only cautiously optimistic about the upcoming year 2023. “Due to the energy crisis, the export year 2023 will not be easy,” predicts economic adviser Danninger. However, he is convinced that, with the help of the announced energy cost subsidy, “the export engine will not stutter”.