Exports of goods to the rest of the world dropped by 2.9 percent to EUR 199.9 billion in March from last year's all-time high of EUR 205.9 billion, while imports declined at a softer 2.5 percent to EUR 173.0 billion, also from a record high of EUR 177.4 billion in March 2017. Intra-euro area trade decreased 0.6 percent year-on-year to EUR 170.5 billion in March.
Considering the first quarter of the year, the trade surplus widened to EUR 49.4 billion from EUR 42.9 billion in the same period of 2017
, as exports grew 2.5 percent to EUR 555.7 billion and imports increased 1.4 percent to EUR 506.3 billion.
Meanwhile, the European Union trade surplus widened to EUR 11.5 billion in March from EUR 8.7 billion a year ago. Exports went down 2.4 percent to EUR 172.1 billion from EUR 176.4 billion in March 2017, while imports fell 4.2 percent to EUR 160.6 billion from EUR 167.7 billion.
In January-March, the EU trade deficit decreased to EUR 6.1 billion from EUR 9.1 billion in the same period of 2017. Exports went up 1.5 percent to EUR 471.4 billion, boosted by higher sales of chemicals (7.5 percent), other manufactured goods (3.1 percent), energy (2 percent); and machinery and vehicles (0.2 percent). By contrast, exports fell for both food and drink (-2.4 percent) and raw materials (-2.3 percent). Exports grew to the US (2.2 percent); China (0.6 percent); Russia (3 percent); Turkey (13.8 percent); but dropped to Switzerland (-5.3 percent). Imports rose at a slower 0.8 percent to EUR 477.4 billion, boosted by purchases of energy (5.5 percent), other manufactured goods (1.1 percent), and machinery and vehicles (1 percent). Meanwhile, imports fell for food and drink (-5.2 percent), chemicals (-3.9 percent) and raw materials (-1.5 percent). Imports rose mainly from China (3.1 percent), Turkey (6.8 percent) and Russia (0.5 percent), but declined from the US (-5.2 percent) and Switzerland (-4.9 percent).