Euro zone economic growth was 0.1% quarter-on-quarter in the first three months of the year, the EU’s statistics agency confirmed today, with rising employment and a sharp increase in exports that boosted the euro zone trade surplus.
Eurostat also confirmed its earlier estimate that gross domestic product in the 20 countries sharing the euro rose 1.3% year-on-year in the three months from January to March.
It also said that employment grew 0.6% on the quarter for a 1.7% year-on-year rise.
While a more detailed breakdown of the GDP rise was not yet available, unadjusted trade data for the first quarter showed an 8.5% jump in exports over the same period of 2022 with unchanged imports, indicating net trade contributed to the growth.
In March the unadjusted euro zone trade balance swung to a €25.6 billion surplus from a €20 billion deficit in the first three months of 2022.
Adjusted for seasonal swings, the March trade surplus was €17 billion, up from a €200m deficit the month before.
The better net trade result in the first quarter came mainly from higher exports of machinery, vehicles and chemicals and a drop in imports of energy.
Imports from Russia, once a key supplier of oil and gas to the EU, were 72.1% lower in the first quarter than a year earlier as the EU stopped buying most of its energy from Moscow following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022.
Also the EU’s trade deficit with China, the bloc’s second biggest trading partner after the US, fell in the first quarter to €74.7 billion from €92 billion in the same period of 2022 as the EU seeks to reduce its dependence on Beijing.