An increase in energy imports due to a cold snap in February sent France\'s trade deficit jumping by nearly 15 percent in February to hit 6.4 billion euros ($8.4 billion), customs data showed Friday. \"In February, the increase in imports is in part due to energy purchases connected to the cold snap, which caused the deficit to widen to 6.398 billion euros from 5.593 billion euros in January,\" said the French customs service in a statement. In addition to the cold weather, three oil refineries were shut for maintenance, also causing a spurt in imports, the customs service noted. Imports rose to 43.6 billion euros in February and exports to 37.2 billion euros. Exports were helped by good sales of manufactured items, as well as agricultural commodities and military equipment, noted the customs service. Major deliveries of satellites and a rebound in vehicle exports also helped the monthly figures. The 12-month trade deficit came in at 70.051 billion euros. France posted a record trade deficit in 2011 of 70.104 billion euros. France has a big structural trade deficit which is a central concern to policymakers, and contrasts with a big surplus by the leading eurozone economy, Germany. A trade surplus is important because it contributes to growth of gross domestic product, while a trade deficit tends to be a drag on the economy.