The euro zone's trade surplus with the rest of the world grew in February, with a decline in imports from China as well as sharply lower energy needs because of mild winter weather. 

The unadjusted goods trade surplus grew to €23 billion in February, compared with €18.5 billion a year earlier. 

Exports rose by 1.6%, while imports fell by 1%. 

For China, which already had widespread coronavirus restrictions in place in February, exports from the European Union as a whole were slightly lower than in February 2019.

However, imports were down by 8.1%, according to data on Eurostat's website. 

Energy imports as a whole also declined by 9.6% in February, when comparing January-February data issued today and January data from a month ago. 

That translated into 10.1% lower imports from Russia and 5.9% less from Norway. 

The trade surplus with the US, by contrast, grew by 21% in the month as exports increased and imports declined. The persistent surplus in goods has been a source of transatlantic tension. 

On a seasonally adjusted basis the euro zone trade surplus also rose to €25.8 billion in February from €18.2 billion in January. Exports were 1.8% higher month-on-month and imports 2.3% lower.

Meanwhile, the euro zone's current account surplus widened to €40 billion in February from €32 billion a month earlier, the European Central Bank said today. 

In the 12-months to February, the euro zone recorded a current account surplus of €339 billion, equal to 2.8% of its gross domestic product, compared with a surplus of €361 billion (3.1% of GDP) in the 12 months to February 2019.