Thursday 16 May 2019 1:10 pm

Eurozone trade surplus grows in sign of recovery for struggling area

The Eurozone achieved a better-than-expected trade in goods surplus in March, official statistics revealed today, in the latest sign of economic recovery on the continent.

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Meanwhile the European Union’s trade in goods deficit with China grew and its surplus with the US fell in the first three months of the year, figures from the EU’s Eurostat organisation showed.

The euro area recorded a €22.5bn trade in goods surplus with the rest of the world in March 2019, compared with a €26.9bn surplus a year earlier. The figure beat analysts’ expectations of a €19.9bn surplus.

The 28-member EU recorded a €2.9bn surplus with the rest of the world, far below the €11.2bn surplus seen in March 2018.

It was confirmed yesterday that the Eurozone had doubled its growth rate to 0.4 per cent in the first quarter, compared to 0.2 per cent in the last three months of 2018, following a rough patch.

In news that will please the Trump administration, the EU’s trade in goods surplus with the United States for the first three months of the year shrank to €33.9bn from €36.2bn in the same period a year earlier.

The EU imported 16.3 per cent more goods from the US in the January to March period this year than it did last year.

However, the bloc’s trade deficit with China increased to €49.4bn in the same period, from €46.9bn a year earlier. Imports from China grew 8.3 per cent year on year.

Europe has become embroiled in global trade tensions over the last year. In March 2018, US President Donald Trump slapped tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium from the EU and threatened to levy car imports on national security grounds.

Yesterday it was reported that Trump was planning to suspend any auto tariffs for six months, however, which boosted global markets.

The UK’s trade deficit with the EU grew to minus €30.4bn in the first three months of the year compared to €26.3bn a year earlier.

The EU’s trade in energy deficit rose to €71.7bn in the first three months of the 2019 year-on-year, as exports fell by 4.2 per cent.

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Exports to Turkey fell 22 per cent, thanks in part to lower demand from the country’s struggling economy.