The euro zone's trade balance was in deficit for the third consecutive month in January as surging energy prices led to a sharp increase in the value of imports, even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine prompted further price spikes.

Eurostat said the non-adjusted trade deficit of the 19 countries sharing the euro was €27.2 billion euros compared with a €10.7 billion surplus a year earlier in January 2021.

Payments for imports jumped by 44.3% year-on-year, while revenues from exports grew by only 18.9%.

It was the third consecutive month of deficit and a more substantial shortfall than in the previous two months.

Data for the whole 27-nation European Union showed the cost of energy product imports more than doubled in January from a year earlier, with marked increases also for imports of other raw materials, chemicals and machinery.

The EU's trade deficits with energy supplier Russia more than doubled to €11.9 billion and with Norway grew from just €0.1 billion a year earlier to €5.8 billion.

The deficit also nearly doubled with China to almost €34 billion, and widened with India and South Korea.

The EU maintained a surplus with the United States, Britain and Switzerland.

Adjusted for seasonal swings, the euro zone trade was also in deficit for a third consecutive month, although the €7.7 billion figure for January was slightly smaller than December's €9.7 billion shortfall.