April 17, 2019 / 9:19 AM / in 6 days

EU goods trade surplus with U.S. grows, deficit with China widens

FILE PHOTO: Aerial view of containers at a loading terminal in the port of Hamburg, Germany August 1, 2018. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union’s trade surplus in goods with the United States increased in the first two months of 2019 while its deficit with China widened, figures that could increase global economic tensions.

The European Union’s surplus with the United States grew to 21.6 billion euros in Jan-Feb 2019 from 20.9 billion euros (£18.2 billion) in the same period of 2018, EU statistics office Eurostat reported on Wednesday. With China, the EU’s trade deficit expanded to 37.8 billion from 35.5 billion euros.

The United States has hit the European Union with tariffs and threatened more in complaint over the trade balance. Both Washington and Brussels have also complained that China wants free trade without playing fair.

Overall, the goods trade deficit of the 28-nation bloc increased to 28.4 billion euros in Jan-Feb 2019 from 20.7 billion a year earlier.

Energy imports were the chief cause of the deficit, especially from Russia and Norway.

For the narrower 19-country euro zone, exports grew by 4.4 percent year-on-year in February and imports by 4.0 percent, leading to an expansion of its trade surplus to 17.9 billion in February from 16.5 billion euros a year earlier.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the euro zone’s trade surplus also increased to 19.5 billion euros in February from 17.4 billion in January as exports fell by 1.4 percent and imports declined by 2.7 percent.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop

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