New figures from the European Union's statistics office Eurostat today showed that imports from Britain were down by more than a third in the first quarter of 2021 following the British exit from the EU single market.

The 27-nation bloc's trade surplus with Britain rose to €35.8 billion as exports were down by a more modest 14.3%.

It noted that the decline in exports and imports was most marked in January and less acute in March.

Eurostat said the euro zone's unadjusted trade surplus with the rest of the world fell to €15.8 billion in March from €29.9 billion the same time last year.

Adjusted for seasonal swings, the euro zone trade surplus with the rest of the world was €13 billion in March from €23.1 billion in February as exports fell 0.3% on the month while imports rose 5.6%.