The euro zone’s trade surplus with the rest of the world rose in June, according to official figures Monday, as an increase in exports outpaced a pickup in imports.
The data offer rare good news for the euro zone’s struggling economy, after figures showed economic growth in the 18-nation currency union stalled in the second quarter.
The trade data also highlight the region’s deteriorating relationship with Russia over Moscow’s alleged interference in Ukraine, where the government in Kiev is battling pro-Russian forces in the country’s eastern regions. Euro-zone exports to Russia, which were slowing even before the European Union and U.S. agreed tougher sanctions on Moscow last month, were lower in the year to May than they were a year earlier, data showed.
The euro zone’s surplus in goods trade with the rest of the world swelled to EUR16.8 billion ($22.5 billion) in June, compared with a surplus of EUR15.4 billion in May and a surplus of EUR15.7 billion in June 2013, Eurostat, the EU’s statistics agency, said in a report Monday.
Exports rose 3% on the year, outpacing a 2% rise in imports, the agency said.
The improvement in the region’s trade balance was driven by a rise in exports to China, the U.S. and the U.K.
Exports to Russia were 14% lower in the year to May than they were in the same period a year earlier, data showed, while imports from Russia were down 7%.
The decline largely reflects a slowdown in the Russian economy this year but trade with the EU’s eastern neighbor is expected to slow further in 2014 as sanctions against Moscow bite.