The European Union's statistics agency Eurostat said Tuesday that adjusted for seasonal factors, exports from the euro zone to the rest of the world fell 2.3% from April, while imports were down 2.2%.
It was the second straight month in which exports fell sharply, and the largest month-to-month fall since June 2011.
Eurostat said that before seasonal adjustments, the euro zone had a trade surplus of €15.2 billion in May, up from €6.6 billion in May 2012 and €14.1 billion in April. The widening of the trade balance over the year was entirely because of a 6% drop in imports, a sign of weak domestic demand.
The drop in exports to countries outside the EU was particularly sharp in Germany, falling by 9% from April. By contrast, Italian exports to non-EU countries rose by 3.6% while Spanish exports rose by 0.8%.
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