September 17, 2012 / 9:03 AM / 5 years ago

Euro zone trade surplus grows in July

BRUSSELS, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Euro zone unadjusted exports grew more than five times faster than imports year-on-year in July, boosting the single currency area's trade surplus with the rest of the world, data showed on Monday.

The European Union's statistics office said the unadjusted trade surplus in the 17 countries using the euro was 15.6 billion euros in July, up from 2.1 billion in June, as exports surged 11 percent in annual terms and imports only 2 percent.

The weakness of imports points to falling domestic demand as the euro zone sinks deeper into the economic slowdown brought on by the sovereign debt crisis.

Adjusted for seasonal factors, the trade surplus was only 7.9 billion euros, down from 9.3 billion in June, as exports fell 2 percent month-on-month and imports eased 1.2 percent.

Detailed Eurostat data for July was not yet available but the breakdown for the January-June period showed export growth was mainly driven by sales of machinery, vehicles and other manufactured goods.

This offset more expensive imports of energy, and smaller imports of raw materials also helped.

The main export engine is Germany, which is responsible for more than half of euro zone exports. The second biggest contributor to the trade surplus is the Netherlands and the third biggest is Ireland. (Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; editing by Rex Merrifield)

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