The euro zone's unadjusted trade surplus was almost five times higher in April than a year earlier, mainly thanks to a strong rebound in exports of machinery and cars, but was still smaller than expected, data from Eurostat has revealed.
The European Union's statistics office said the unadjusted trade surplus of the 19 countries sharing the euro was €10.9 billion in April compared with 2.3 billion in April 2020, as overall euro zone exports rose 43.2% while imports increased 37.4%.
But the April result fell short of market expectations of a €15.8 billion surplus in a Reuters poll of economists.
Exports of machinery and vehicles from the whole EU jumped 11.9% in the first four months of 2021, swelling the surplus in that category to €58.5 billion from €48.5 billion a year earlier.
The EU's trade deficit with its biggest trading partner China widened, but it was offset by increased trade surpluses with the United States and Britain.
The 27-nation bloc's overall trade volume with Britain fell after the country left the EU's internal market at the start of the year, but the surplus surged because imports from Britain plunged 27.1% in January-April while exports declined only 3.3%.
Adjusted for seasonal factors, the euro zone's external trade surplus was €9.4 billion in April, down from €18.3 billion in March.
In April 2021, all member states registered a significant year-on-year increase in extra-EU exports except Cyprus (-17.7%) and Ireland (-0.3%).
The highest growth was registered in Slovakia (+120.6%) and Italy (+104.6%).
In terms of extra-EU imports, all member states registered growth during the month except Luxembourg (-5.3%). The highest increase was observed in Malta (+160.4%), Estonia (+77.8%), and Slovenia (+71.2%).
Between January to April 2021, extra-EU exports of goods rose to €688.1 billion, up 7.8% compared with the same period last year.
Imports rose 6.3% year-on-year to €626.6 billion, data showed. As a result, the EU recorded a surplus of €61.4 billion, up from €48.4 billion in January-April 2020.
Intra-EU trade rose 16.0% year-on-year to €1081.7 billion in January-April 2021.