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Business

Eurozone debt keeps rising despite austerity

Debt levels in the eurozone have further edged up to reach a record total in the second quarter this year. Latest figures show the debt crisis is far from over, despite sweeping cutbacks and higher growth.

The combined debt of the 17 nations using the euro surged to 93.4 percent of the bloc's gross domestic product (GDP) in the second quarter of 2013, the European Union's statistics office, Eurostat, announced Wednesday.

The figure marked a significant rise in debt levels from the first quarter of this year, when eurozone debt amounted to 92.3 percent of GDP. Compared with the 2012 annual total, eurozone countries owed creditors almost 4 percent more, Eurostat data showed.

Countries most affected by the eurozone debt crisis remained Greece with the highest debt-to-GDP ration of 169.1 percent, up by 7.6 percent, followed by Italy - where arrears amounted to 130 percent of the country's economic output in the second quarter. Portugal and Ireland, which have both been rescued with massive bailout programs, came next with national debt reaching 127 and 125 percent respectively.

Germany was able to reduce its debt slightly from 81.9 percent to 81.2 percent quarter-on-quarter - an achievement which only Estonia managed to emulate in the eurozone, as it drove down its debt from 10.1 percent to 10 percent of GDP.

The eurozone's second-quarter debt figure is the highest for a three-months period ever recorded, and came despite massive government cutbacks, especially in the bloc's heavily indebted southern periphery.

It also shows that a reduction in 2012 eurozone budget deficits to 3.7 percent, hailed this week as a big success by EU leaders, was insufficient to end the euro area's debt crisis.

uhe/rc (dpa, AP, Reuters)