Algeria index of goods import prices is slightly higher at the first quarter of 2012 by 1.3% compared to the same period in 2011, despite a "relatively large"decline (7.2%) of the volume of imports, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said Monday. Compared to the fourth quarter of 2011, the index of import prices declined by 7%, says the Office. This increase in import prices has affected several product groups and was particularly important for user groups "consumer goods" with 20.7%, "farm equipment" (11%), "semi-finished" items (8.7%) and "raw materials, energy and lubricants (5.7%). This increase is primarily due to an increase in prices on the international market during the first three months of 2012. In addition, other groups in the structure of imports declines. This decrease concerned the "raw materials" with 41%, "industrial equipments" (13.4%) and a slight decrease ’1%) for food. The Office also indicates that the increase in import prices has affected only the first two months of the quarter (January and February) 2012 with 4.2% and 5.3% compared to the same period 2011, while in March they declined 4.9% compared to March 2011. In Dinars, imports of goods decreased by 5.9% compared to the same period in 2011, from DA 836.3 billion to 786.7 billion DA, adds the ONS. By group of products, the highest increase was recorded by "consumer goods" with 44.7%, followed by the group "Food, drinks and tobacco" by 33.7% and "Energy and lubricants and raw materials" (21 %). The index of import prices of goods of Algeria, after stagnating in 2010, experienced a sharp increase (23.5%) in 2011, despite a 9% decrease in the volume of imports compared to the previous year. The trade balance of Algeria recorded a surplus of $17.45 billion in the first seven months of 2012, against 13.95 billion dollars during the same period in 2011, an increase of over 25%.