Exports fell 7 percent from the previous year to EUR 11.24 billion in March, due to lower sales of electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances (-55 percent) and other transport equipment, including aircraft (-76 percent). By contrast, exports of organic chemicals increased 52 percent.
Exports to the EU dropped 2 percent to EUR 5.82 billion in March. They accounted for 52 percent of total goods exports, of which EUR 1.67 billion went to Belgium and EUR 0.86 billion to Germany. Exports to Great Britain fell 5 percent to EUR 1.12 billion compared with the same month last year. The decrease was led by machinery and transport equipment, and minerals fuels, lubricants and related materials. The US was the largest export destination accounting for EUR 3.16 billion, or 28 percent, of total exports.
Imports rose slightly by 0.3 percent to EUR 7.08 billion compared with March 2017, as purchases grew for mineral fuels (13 percent) and medical and pharmaceutical products (61 percent). On the other hand, imports of other transport equipment, including aircraft dropped 16 percent.
Imports from the EU increased 2 percent to EUR 4.56 billion, accounting for 64 percent of total imports. Imports from Great Britain rose 5 percent to EUR 1.55 billion, boosted by mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials. The US with EUR 950 million, or 13 percent, and China with EUR 469 million, or 7 percent, were the main non-EU sources of imports.
In the first quarter of the year, the trade surplus widened to EUR 13.61 billion from EUR 12.95 billion in the same period of 2017.