Exports rose 4 percent from a year earlier to EUR 11.78 billion in March, boosted by sales of medical and pharmaceutical products (20 percent), electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances (37 percent), and professional, scientific and controlling apparatus (27 percent). By contrast, exports of organic chemicals slumped 34 percent.
The EU accounted for EUR 5.86 billion, or 50 percent, of total goods exports in March of which EUR 1.23 billion went to Belgium and EUR 0.82 billion was exported to the Netherlands. Total EU exports in March decreased by EUR 69 million, or 1 percent, compared with March 2018. Exports to Great Britain increased by EUR 135 million, or 12 percent, to EUR 1.25 billion in March, boosted by exports of mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials. Exports to Great Britain accounted for 11 percent of total exports. The US was the main non-EU destination accounting for EUR 3.33 billion, or 28 percent, of total exports.
Meanwhile, imports increased at a slower 2 percent to EUR 7.24 billion, mainly due to purchases of other transport equipment, including aircraft (7 percent), and food and live animals (9 percent); while imports of medical and pharmaceutical products plunged 41 percent.
The EU accounted for EUR 4.68 billion, or 65 percent, of total goods imports in March, which is an increase of EUR 202 million, or 5 percent compared with previous year. Imports from Great Britain increased by EUR 141 million, or 9 percent, to EUR 1.71 billion, led by purchases of machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods classified chiefly by material and food and live animals. Imports from Great Britain were 24 percent of the value of total imports in March. The US with EUR 1.02 billion, or 14 percent, and China with EUR 0.40 billion, or 6 percent, were the main non-EU sources of imports.
Considering the first quarter of the year, the trade surplus widened sharply to EUR 17.64 billion from EUR 13.76 billion in the same period of 2018.