Imports advanced 6.0 percent to EUR 183.1 billion in March from last year's EUR 172.7 billion, while exports went up at a softer 3.1 percent to EUR 205.6 billion from EUR 199.5 billion. Intra-euro area trade fell 0.3 percent year-on-year to EUR 172.1 billion in March. Considering the first quarter of the year, the trade surplus was at EUR 43.5 billion, compared to EUR 46.5 billion in the same period a year earlier, with exports increasing 3.9 percent to EUR 575.6 billion and imports rising 4.8 percent to EUR 532.2 billion.
Meantime, the European Union trade surplus fell sharply to EUR 2.9 billion from EUR 11.2 billion a year ago, mostly due to a jump in imports (6.4 percent to EUR 170.4 billion) and a smaller rise in exports (1.2 percent to EUR 173.4 billion). Considering the first three months of the year, the European Union recorded a trade gap of EUR 24.0 billion, compared to a EUR 9.6 billion shortfall in the same period of 2018. The trade surplus with the US declined to EUR 33.9 billion from EUR 36.2 billion, while the trade deficit with China went up to EUR 49.4 billion from EUR 46.9 billion.
Exports increased 3.1 percent year-on-year to EUR 483.6 billion in January-March, driven by higher sales of food & drink (8.3 percent), chemicals (4.9 percent), raw materials (4.7 percent), machinery & vehicles (2.7 percent) and other manufactured goods (3.5 percent). On the other hand, exports of energy dropped 4.2 percent. Among major trade partners, exports grew to the US (8.2 percent), China (11.3 percent), Switzerland (2.9 percent), Russia (0.6 percent), Japan (7.6 percent), Norway (11.3 percent) and Canada (6.1 percent), but declined to Turkey (-22.0 percent), South Korea (-7.3 percent) and India (-6.4 percent).
Imports advanced at a stronger 6.1 percent to EUR 507.6 billion, boosted by higher purchases of chemicals (11.4 percent), machinery and vehicles (7.5 percent), food & drink (6.1 percent), other manufactured goods (4.8 percent), raw materials (4.5 percent), and energy (1.2 percent). Imports increased mainly from the US (16.3 percent), China (8.3 percent), Switzerland (9.6 percent), Russia (1.5 percent), Turkey (6.9 percent), Japan (8.0 percent), South Korea (8.4 percent), India (8.5 percent) and Canada (7.8 percent), but decreased from Norway (-9.8 percent).