BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- Exports from the 15 nations that share the euro dropped 2 percent in August while it grew imports, swelling its trade deficit for the month to 9.3 billion euros ($12.5 billion), the European Union's statistical office said Friday.
The currency bloc -- which includes Germany, the world's largest exporter -- reported exports of 117.2 billion euros ($158 billion) during the summer vacation month when business is often slow, 2 percent lower than a year ago.
Eurostat did not explain what caused exports to fall. But the data it provides for trade from January to July this year show imports -- especially the higher cost of imported oil and gas -- outpacing exports.
The euro area has racked up a trade deficit of 14.7 billion euros ($19.8 billion) for the first seven months of the year, following a surplus a year ago.
Although euro nations have managed to sell more 7 percent more from January to July -- thanks to higher demand for their goods from booming China and Russia -- they are also importing 11 percent more.
That import surge is largely a result of the far higher price Europeans are paying for oil and natural gas this year, with the euro energy import bill climbing 43 percent as oil hit record price levels over the summer. The value of Russian imports -- mostly energy -- climbed by a quarter.
But the strength of the euro currency against the U.S. dollar and Japanese yen this year has also eaten into better sales to other parts of the world.
Euro exports to the United States -- its second largest trade partner after Britain -- fell 4 percent from January to July while sales to Japan were down 3 percent.