Imports grew by 6.2 percent from a year earlier to EUR 88.1 billion in August. Purchases from the EU increased by 5.2 percent to EUR 48.3 billion, of which Euro area countries (7.2 percent to EUR 31.4 billion) and other European countries (1.8 percent to EUR 17.0 billion). In addition, imports from countries outside the EU rose by 7.2 percent to EUR 39.7 billion.
Meanwhile, exports went up at a softer 2.2 percent to EUR 105.2 billion, as sales to the EU grew by 1.2 percent to EUR 59.3 billion, of which Euro area countries (1.3 percent to EUR 36.4 billion) and other European countries (1.1 percent to EUR 22.9 billion). Also, exports to countries outside the EU advanced 3.5 percent to EUR 45.9 billion.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, the trade surplus widened to EUR 18.3 billion in August from an upwardly revised EUR 15.9 billion in July and beating market expectations of EUR 16.4 billion. Exports dropped unexpectedly by 0.1 percent, missing forecasts of a 0.3 percent rise and after a downwardly revised 0.8 percent fall in a month earlier. Imports declined at a faster 2.7 percent, worse than market consensus of a 0.2 percent fall and compared to a 2.8 percent rise in July.
Considering January to August 2018, the trade surplus narrowed to EUR 155.9 billion from EUR 160.1 billion in the same period the prior year.