German exports rose more strongly than expected in May, outpacing a solid increase in imports and widening the trade surplus of Europe's biggest economy. 

Seasonally adjusted exports climbed 1.4% - their fifth consecutive monthly increase - while imports were up 1.2%, data from the Federal Statistics Office showed. 

Both figures came in stronger than expected - a Reuters poll had pointed to exports edging up 0.3% and imports rising by 0.5%. 

The seasonally adjusted trade surplus edged up to €20.3 billion from a revised €19.7 billion in April. 

The May reading was in line with the Reuters consensus forecast of €20.3 billion.

Germany's wider current account surplus, which measures the flow of goods, services and investments, rose to €17.3 billion after a revised €14.9 billion in April, unadjusted data showed. 

The figures are likely to add fuel to the debate about Germany's export strength after the International Monetary Fund on Friday repeated its call for Berlin to increase investment as a way to reduce its current account surplus, increase imports and hence support the economic recovery in other countries.