The euro zone trade surplus widened in November because imports fell more sharply than exports.

The latest data from the EU's statistics office Eurostat pointing to the continued weakness of domestic demand.

The euro zone had an external trade surplus, unadjusted for seasonal swings, of €17.1 billion, in line with economists expectations.

It was above the €12.5 billion the same time last year and a revised €16.8 billion surplus in October. For the first 11 months of 2013 the trade surplus came to €139 billion - almost double that of the same time in 2012.

Non-seasonally adjusted, exports from the euro zone fell by 2% on the year in November after a 1% rise in October, while imports dropped by 5%, following a 3% contraction in October.

The UK remains the euro zone's key business partner with cumulative exports for the January to November period up by 3% and imports down by 2%.

Exports to China, the bloc's third biggest trade partner after the second US, were flat in the first eleven months of last year while imports fell 6%, leaving a €69 billion trade deficit, down from €78.7 billion in the same period of 2012.

In a sign of rising competitiveness, exports of Europe's southern periphery countries - Spain, Portugal and Greece - were up by 4% in the January to November period, with cumulative trade deficits shrinking in all three year-on-year.

Germany's trade surplus in the first eleven months of the year rose on the year, with flat exports and a 1% drop in imports, while France's deficit, shrinking year-on-year, was mainly due to a drop in imports.