The euro zone's trade surplus rose year-on-year in July as exports grew faster than imports, pointing to a positive contribution to economic growth at the start of the third quarter, new figures show today. 

Eurostat said the euro zone's non-seasonally adjusted external trade surplus rose to €21.2 billion in July, up from €18 billion the same month last year. 

Exports increased 3% year-on-year while imports rose only 1%. 

Adjusted for seasonal swings, however, and on a month-on-month basis, exports edged 0.2% lower in July compared to June while imports rose 0.9%. 

The seasonally adjusted trade balance was a €12.2 billion surplus, down from €13.8 billion in June and €15.2 billion in May. 

There was no detailed data for July yet, but Eurostat said that in the first six months of the year the euro zone's trade deficit in energy narrowed to €144.9 billion from €157.8 billion in the first six months of 2013. 

The trade deficit with Russia, Europe's main oil and gas supplier, rose slightly to €31.7 billion in the six months from January to June from €29.5 billion the same time last year, because euro zone experts to Russia tumbled 14% and the value of imports fell only 6%. 

The biggest contributions to the euro zone trade surplus came from a strong exports increase to Britain and the US and as well as China. 

Germany remains Europe's biggest exporter with a trade surplus of €100.7 billion in the first six months of the year. Britain is Europe's biggest importer, with a trade deficit of €60.2 billion in the first six months.