Austrian exports may double in 2008 to 3 billion euros (4.4 billion dollars), Austria's Trade Chamber said Thursday.
According to preliminary calculations, the country's trade surplus amounted to a new record high of 1.5 billion euros in 2007, continuing a positive trend established in 2002.
In 2007 exports grew by 9.8 per cent to 113.9 billion euros, while imports rose by 7.9 per cent to 112.4 billion euros.
Austria, historically struggling with a strongly negative foreign trade balance, reinvented itself as one of Europe's top exporters posting the highest increase rates on the continent, Trade Chamber head Christoph Leitl said in a press conference.
In the past, Austria had been forced to make up the large deficits with services and tourism, but since 2000 good exports by themselves produced surpluses, he said.
For 2008, the chamber predicted slowing growth rates, but remained optimistic to maintain an 8-per-cent growth rate. "Eastern Europe will compensate for the slowdown in Western Europe," Walter Koren, head of the chamber's foreign trade section said.
Europe, and Germany in particular, however remain Austria's most important export markets. Around 80 per cent of Austrian-produced goods are exported to Europe, 21.8 per cent to Germany.
In 2007, Austrian exports were negatively affected by the weak dollar, as the United States represents the Alpine republic's third largest trade partner and most important overseas market. ( Dpa )