Euro zone trade surplus surges as imports drop, GDP and employment in record fall

adds GDP to headline, no change to text

BRUSSELS, Aug 14 (Reuters)The euro zone’s trade surplus with the rest of the world jumped in June to 21.2 billion euros ($25 billion) as the bloc’s drop in imports of goods outpaced the fall of exports amid a global decline in the trade due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bloc also experienced in the second quarter of 2020 its worst drop in employment ever recorded, the European Union’s statistics agency Eurostat said.

It also confirmed the record fall of the bloc’s gross domestic product in the second quarter, which fell by 12.1% compared to the first three months of the year .

Eurostat said on Friday the June trade surplus was higher than that posted a year earlier when the bloc had a positive balance of 19.4 billion euros. The reading also largely beat market expectations of a 12.6 billion euros surplus.

The surplus was more than twice as big as that recorded in May when the bloc had a positive balance of 9.4 billion euros .

The year-on-year improvement was caused by a 12.2% drop of imports, which more than offset the 10% fall in exports, Eurostat estimates showed.

The 19 countries of the currency bloc also traded much less among themselves. In June they exchanged goods worth 150.6 billion euros, down by 7.3% compared with the same month last year.

The larger EU, which is composed of 27 states, posted a 20.7 billion euros surplus in June, also caused by a bigger drop in imports than exports.

Among its top three trading partners, the EU reduced trade mostly with Britain, which left the EU on Jan. 31. Trade with the United States also fell significantly while the drop of exchanges with China was small.

In a separate release, Eurostat said euro zone employment in the period between April and June fell by 2.8% compared to the previous quarter, in the sharpest decline since data began to be collected in 1995.

($1 = 0.8473 euros)

(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio; Editing by John Chalmers)

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