Spain posts first trade surplus since 1971

Spain announced Friday its first monthly trade surplus since 1971 as imports slumped because of a collapse in demand in the midst of a recession and record unemployment.

The eurozone's fourth biggest economy posted a surplus of 634.9 million euros ($817 million) in March, compared to a deficit of 3.245 billion euros a year earlier, the Economy Ministry said.

Imports in March plunged by 15 percent from a year earlier to 19.653 billion euros while exports grew two percent to 20.288 billion euros.

"Exports to our European Union partners fell by 8.1 percent, reflecting the weak economy in the region," the Economy Ministry said in a statement.

"Spain is continuing its marked process of reorientating its sales to other markets where the economic outlook is more favourable," such as the Middle East, Africa and United States, it said.

For the first three months of the year combined, Spain recorded a trade deficit of 4.048 billion euros, down 62 percent from a year earlier.

Imports in the quarter dropped 6.9 percent to 60.632 billion euros while exports rose 3.9 percent to 56.584 billion euros, the ministry said.