The 17-nation eurozone posted a record trade surplus of 22.9 billion euros in March, up from 10.1 billion euros in February, official data showed on Thursday. The Eurostat data agency said that March exports on a monthly comparison rose 2.8 percent while imports fell 1.0 percent. For the 27-member European Union, there was a trade surplus of 15.8 billion euros, up from 1.7 billion euros in February. A trade surplus is one of the main factors of growth in an economy, although if it reflects also a strong fall of imports because of weak demand internally, the trend may not be so bright. Eurozone powerhouse Germany, the world\'s second-biggest exporter after China, more than accounted for the positive eurozone figures with a March trade surplus of 30.4 billion euros. Fellow eurozone members the Netherlands and Ireland followed with trade surpluses of 9.3 billion euros and 5.1 billion euros, respectively. The largest March trade deficits were reported by non-euro Britain with 17.9 billion euros, and euro states France on 15.3 billion euros, Spain 3.8 billion euros and Greece 3.7 billion euros. Howard Archer at IHS Global Insight said the improved eurozone trade performance in March may have helped limit the economy\'s first-quarter downturn -- announced on Wednesday as a contraction of 0.2 percent. That outcome still left the eurozone economy in recession for a sixth quarter running. Archer said that export gains in the first quarter were \"relatively decent\" given stuttering global growth and a spike in the value of the euro. At the same time, the fall in imports \"points to weak domestic demand,\" he said. \"It is vitally important for the eurozone that global growth improves as 2013 proceeds, thereby boosting exports and facilitating the single currency area\'s exit from recession that has now lasted a record six quarters,\" Archer added. Separately, Eurostat also published its second estimate of inflation for April, left unchanged at 1.2 percent and down sharply from 1.7 percent in March. The European Central Bank has an inflation target of close to but just under 2.0 percent and the figures have been well within this limit for three months.IHS Global Insight said the April outcome marked a 38-month low and was a possible sign of building deflationary pressures -- potentially another concern as that would signal demand falling further. \"The eurozone has many economic problems at the moment but inflation is clearly not one of them. \"Indeed, deflation is perhaps becoming more of a risk than inflation for the Eurozone, although it remains unlikely for now at least.\"