Euro zone trade surplus widens to $20.9B in May; trade with Russia softens

Nathan Andrada – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Brussels, Belgium (4E) – Trade surplus of goods by the euro area with the rest of the world climbed in May compared with the year-ago month, boosted by higher exports.

The euro zone’s trade surplus rose to 15.4bn euros ($20.9bn) from 14.6bn euros in May 2013, according to data released by Eurostat on Wednesday. Exports inched up by 0.6 percent from April on a seasonally adjusted basis, while imports edged higher by 0.5 percent, the first gains recorded since February.

Wednesday’s report also showed that the euro zone’s trade with Russia continued to significantly fall following the Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region in March, according to the European Union’s statistics office.

In the four-month period through April, the most recent month for which data are available, shipments to Russia were down 13 percent from the year-earlier period, while imports from Russia fell 9 percent, resulting to a slight decline in Russia’s trade surplus with the euro zone, Eurostat said.

The drop in exports is primarily due to the significant weakness in the Russian economy last year and through early 2014. The decline of euro zone’s imports from Russia reflects a surprisingly mild start to the year across the currency bloc, which has cut demand for natural gas and other energy products.

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