The euro zone's trade surplus with the rest of the world declined in July from a year earlier, data released by the European Union's statistics office showed today, as imports grew at a faster rate than exports.

Eurostat said the euro zone's unadjusted trade surplus with the rest of the world fell to €20.7 billion in July from €26.8 billion the same month last year.

However, the surplus for the first seven months of 2021 was comfortably higher, at €122.4 billion from €112.8 billion the same time last year.

Adjusted for seasonal swings, the euro zone trade surplus increased to €13.4 billion in July from €11.9 billion in June, as exports rose 1% on the month while imports were only 0.3% higher.

For the European Union as a whole, the non-seasonally adjusted data showed a decline in the trade surplus in both July and in the January to July period from a year earlier. The bloc is a major importer of oil and other raw materials and a major exporter of chemicals, machinery and vehicles.

The European Union's trade deficit with China increased, while its surplus with the US and Britain expanded in the first seven months of 2021.

To Britain, which has left the bloc, exports rose by 6.2% and imports fell by 17.1%, although Eurostat has calculated trade with Britain differently since the start of the year.

Goods that had an origin outside Britain are now treated as imports from that country rather than from Britain.