Eurozone trade surplus hits all-time high as steady growth continues

Jasper Jolly
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Increased exports flowing through ports such as Rotterdam drove the trade surplus (Source: Getty)

The Eurozone’s trade surplus rose to the highest point in the European Union’s history in March, as the bloc enjoyed a steady growth rate in the first quarter of 2017.

The Eurozone exported €30.9bn (£26.3bn) more than it imported during the month, the highest level on record, the European Commission said.

Meanwhile, GDP growth was confirmed at 0.5 per cent for the first quarter of 2017, the same rate of growth seen in the last three months of 2016.

Read more: Trump's team welcomes trade deficit fall as exports rise to two-year high

European growth has been boosted by the stronger global economic environment, which has seen demand for exports rise even as some Eurozone countries have received political criticism.

US President Donald Trump was among politicians slamming Germany’s trade surplus with America, while French President Emmanuel Macron has also said Germany’s strong exports, which benefit from the lower-valued euro, are harmful to the EU.

Germany’s overall trade surplus rose to €42.8bn during March, according to the European Commission, although the surplus has since fallen as a proportion of GDP.

The fall in the price of oil imports was a major contributor to the growth of the trade balance over the past 12 months.

Read more: Eurozone swings back to trade surplus as German exports rise

Timo Wollmershaeuser, an interim director Germany’s ifo researchers, said: “Without the oil price effect Germany’s trade surplus would only be around 6.0 percent.”

The trade balance could also be tipped by other factors, including diminishing trade with the UK as the Brexit process begins in earnest.

Claus Vistesen, chief Eurozone economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: “We think the trade surplus in the Eurozone will fall slightly this year, as the bilateral surplus with the UK falls. But it will remain solid, and support a current account surplus of close to three per cent of GDP.”

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