BRUSSELS (Reuters) – 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 euros in August compared to 14.0 billion euros a year earlier. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a 16.1 billion euro 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 euros from 108.7 billion euros in the same period of 2020.
The EU’s trade deficit with Russia, its main energy supplier surged to 37 billion euros 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 euros from a surplus of 3.6 billion euros.
The impact of energy offset a surge in the surplus in trade with Britain after Brexit, which moved to 93.1 billion euros in the January-August period from 65.6 billion euros 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 euros from 92.6 billion euros thanks to a steep rise in exports.
Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; editing by Philip Blenkinsop