The eurozone economy was handed a well-needed statistical boost on Monday with news that its trade surplus expanded over the course of July, thanks to rising exports.
Figures from the EU's statistics office Eurostat showed that year on year, the surplus had risen from €18bn to €21.2bn, with exports rising by 3% and imports by 1%.
The surplus was up 0.2% from June, while on a month by month basis imports rose by 0.9%.
The figures may come as a surprise, considering the escalating bilateral sanctions regime between the EU and Russia, as a result of the ongoing political crisis in East Ukraine. But while the sanctions have yet to have a material impact on exports, there is certainly evidence that they are beginning to bite.
The eurozone's trade deficit with Russia, from which it imports a large portion of its oil and gas, rose as a result of falling eurozone exports to Russia. Earlier this year, the EU banned the export of high-tech engineering and military goods to Russia, which could be used in its energy or military sectors.
However the eurozone managed to increase its exports to the US, UK and China, showing that efforts to diversify trade routes may be bearing fruit.
Furthermore, the eurozone's energy deficit narrowed to €144.9bn from €157.8bn in the first six months of 2013, an indication that imports from Russia have fallen.