The euro zone's unadjusted trade surplus was much smaller then expected in August as the bloc had to pay much more for imported energy, data showed on Friday.
The European Union's statistics office Eurostat said the external trade surplus of the 19 countries sharing the euro was €4.8 billion in August compared to €14.0 billion a year earlier. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a €16.1 billion surplus.
Adjusted for seasonal swings, the trade surplus was €11.0 billion, Eurostat said.
Eurostat said the European Union's trade deficit in energy in the January-August period grew to €151.9 billion from €108.7 billion in the same period of 2020.
The EU's trade deficit with Russia, its main energy supplier surged to €37 billion in the first eight months of this year from €12.9 billion in the same period of 2020.
Similarly, trade with Norway, another EU gas and oil supplier, swung to a deficit of €2.4 billion from a surplus of €3.6 billion.
The impact of energy offset a surge in the surplus in trade with Britain after Brexit, which moved to €93.1 billion in the January-August period from €65.6 billion in the same period last year, when Britain was still part of the single market under the Brexit transition period.
Also the EU trade surplus with the United States rose sharply to €110 billion from €92.6 billion thanks to a steep rise in exports.
In January to August 2021, extra-EU exports of goods rose to €1 400.0 billion, up by 13.8% compared with January-August 2020, while imports rose to €1 306.6 billion, registering a 16.7% growth compared with January-August 2020.
As a result, the EU recorded a surplus of €93.4 billion, compared with +€110.6 billion in January-August 2020. Intra-EU trade rose to €2,187.6 billion in January-August 2021, +20.6% compared with January-August 2020.
In April of this year, euro zone's unadjusted trade surplus was almost five times higher than a year earlier, mainly due to a strong rebound in exports of machinery and cars, but was still smaller than expected.