The seasonally unadjusted trade surplus of the 16-country area totalled 8.8 billion euros ($12.7 billion), compared with a deficit of 1.2 billion euros in October 2008 and a revised surplus of 900 million euros in September 2009, data showed.
Unadjusted exports fell 17 percent year-on-year in October while imports dropped 24 percent, the European Union's statistics office said. Adjusted for seasonal swings, the surplus was 6.3 billion euros, up from 4.3 billion in September as exports eased 0.2 percent month-on-month while imports fell 2.2 percent on the month.
The euro's exchange rate against the dollar was around $1.30 in October last year against $1.46 in October 2009, prompting complaints from European businesses that the single currency's strength is hurting them.
But the debt troubles of Greece, which sent the euro lower against the dollar, could help ease the exchange rate pressure. "Helping matters for euro zone exporters will be the recent retreat in the euro from a 15-month high of $1.5145 in late November to its current level of $1.44. A further retreat in the euro would go down very well," Archer said.