Kuwait’s trade surplus edged marginally higher to KD6.6 billion ($23.4 billion) in the third quarter, but remained below the KD7.2 billion record-high registered in the first quarter of 2012, said a report by National Bank of Kuwait (NBK).The top Kuwaiti lender said the third quarter surplus , estimated at 13 per cent of annual 2012 GDP, was helped by a combination of still-strong oil exports and weak imports."Going forward, we expect any increases in the surplus  to be limited by lower oil prices and a pick-up in imports driven by non-oil sector growth," the NBK said in its report.The oil export revenues  in the world's fourth-largest oil exporter edged up slightly to KD7.8 billion in the third quarter, from KD7.7 billion in the previous quarter. The year-on-year, oil exports were up by some 13 per cent, it added.This is stronger than expected given a 9 per cent increase in crude production and a 0.3 per cent decline in Kuwait export crude prices over the same period. "This year, oil export receipts are seen declining as oil markets and prices are expected to weaken," said the top Kuwaiti bank.The non-oil exports fell slightly by KD0.1 billion to KD0.5 billion in the third quarter mainly driven by lower receipts from re-exports, which more than offset improved exports of ethylene products, manufactured fertilizers and other non-oil exports.However, the year-on-year, non-oil exports were up by 13 per cent on the back of higher export receipts from ethylene products.Meanwhile, imports continued to slip, dipping below KD1.8 billion in the third quarter, down from an all-time high of KD2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011.Also the annual growth in imports slowed to 2 per cent in the third quarter - the lowest rate seen in almost three years.
"Weakness in imports may be reflective of domestic economic activity. Nevertheless, imports could pick-up this year as the government pushes forward with implementation of its development plan," it added.