The European Union statistics office has released new data which shows that net trade made a positive contribution to growth in April as the trade surplus increased to €15.7bn.

This surplus rose from €14bn recorded in the same period of 2013, and the higher surplus was mainly because imports, down 3% year-on-year, slowed more than exports, which fell only 1% in April on a non-seasonally adjusted basis.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected the trade surplus to narrow to €13.9bn in April, from the originally reported €17.1bn surplus in March.

EU exports to Russia fell 12% on the year, on a non-seasonally adjusted basis in the first three months of 2014, Eurostat said. Relations between Russia and the EU are tense because of Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Imports from Russia, which is the EU’s fourth biggest trade partner, fell 9% on the year in the first quarter.