Considering the first three months of the year, the trade surplus narrowed to €46.7 billion from €51.1 billion a year ago, as exports were up by 10 percent to €536.5 billion while imports rose 12 percent to €489.9 billion.
Meanwhile, the European Union recorded a €10.5 billion surplus in trade in goods with the rest of the world, compared with a €5.9 billion surplus in March 2016.
In January to March 2017, the trade gap rose to €5.7 billion, compared with €3.7 billion in the same period a year earlier, as exports went up by 13 percent to €462.5 billion and imports jumped 13 percent to €468.2 billion.
Exports of primary goods surged 27 percent to €66.9 billion, led by an increase in sales of energy (62 percent), raw materials and (27 percent) and food and drink (7 percent). Also, manufactured goods rose 11 percent to €379.5 billion, driven by chemicals (14 percent), machinery and vehicles (11 percent) and other manufactured goods (8 percent). Among trading partners, the biggest increases in exports were reported for Russia (28 percent), the US (11 percent), China (22 percent), South Korea (12 percent), Switzerland (12 percent) and Japan (14 percent).
Imports of primary goods rose 38 percent to €138.9 billion, led by energy (60 percent), raw materials (20 percent) and food and drink (6 percent). Imports of manufactured goods increased 6 percent to €314.7 billion, driven by machinery and vehicles (7 percent) and other manufactured goods (5percent) and chemicals (6 percent). Among trading partners, the biggest increases in imports were reported for Russia (47 percent), Norway (43 percent); South Korea (30 percent) and Canada (13 percent).