Eurozone trade surplus rises to record high in June

State workers protest against the Spanish government's latest austerity measures, in Madrid on August 17, 2012. The eurozone needs to boost exports as austerity measures have hit domestic spending

The eurozone's trade surplus hit 14.9bn euros ($18.3bn; £11.7bn) in June up from 200m euros a year ago.

The surplus was the highest since the European Union's statistics agency began collecting data in 1999.

Germany, the Netherlands and Republic of Ireland recorded the biggest surplus among the 17-member euro area and the wider 27-member EU, said Eurostat.

The EU's trade surplus was 400m euros, compared with a 15.3bn-euro deficit a year earlier

The switch to a surplus was helped by increased exports to Asia and emerging markets including Russia, Japan, Brazil and South Korea.

Germany key

The data underlined the region's dependence on external sources of growth as austerity measures in core eurozone countries have damaged household spending and business confidence.

"Companies have to look for foreign buyers to replace austerity-hit domestic demand and wage restraint and leaner production improve competitiveness," said Berenberg Bank analyst Christian Schulz.

"Germany is still playing a big part. Although it has recently started losing competitiveness vis-a-vis its eurozone partners, the German economy continues to enjoy a high and still improving level of competitiveness at the global level," he added.

Earlier this week, Eurostat said the eurozone economy had shrunk by 0.2% in the April-to-June period from flat growth in the previous first quarter.

Capital Economics warned: "With global growth slowing, we don't expect the resilience of the core's exports to last much longer.

"We still see both Germany and France slipping into recession in 2013."

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