The euro zone's trade surplus widened in February from a year earlier on rising exports with imports unchanged, the European Union's statistics office Eurostat has said.

Exports from the 18 countries using the euro increased by 3% on the year after a 1% rise in January, while imports were flat when compared with a year earlier, data showed. 

The annual data are non-seasonally adjusted.

The foreign trade surplus of the €9.5 trillion economy rose to €13.6bn in February, compared with a €9.8bn surplus in the same period of 2013, and widened from a revised €800m surplus in January.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, exports continued to rebound after steadily declining through October, November and December, and showed a 1.2% increase on the month in February while imports edged up 0.6% month-on-month.

The bloc's recovery is currently export-driven but the European Central Bank said earlier this month that domestic demand was also gradually increasing.

Exports from southern European countries continue to rise, although Greece's seasonally adjusted exports fell 6.1%,while Portugal's exports rose 4.3% in February.

The value of Irish exports rose 1.8% month-on-month, while import value was down 1.3% in the same period.

Germany, Europe's largest economy, saw exports rising by 2.6% on the month on a seasonally adjusted basis in February and imports up by 0.8%.

The bloc's second-largest economy, France, reported a 1.2% monthly increase in exports, seasonally adjusted, with imports falling 7.3%.

The euro zone economy climbed out of recession in the second quarter of the last year and the European Commission expects economic growth this year.