(Adds data for Britain)
BERLIN, May 7 (Reuters) - German companies defied the coronavirus crisis to increase their exports for the eleventh month in a row in March, data from the Statistics Office showed on Friday, with export growth coming in at 1.2%, twice the rate economists had forecast.
Exports to Britain fell for the third month in a row since the country definitively left the European Union's internal market in on Jan. 1, shrinking by a further 13.2% to 6.5 billion euros ($7.8 billion). But imports from Britain rose slightly, by 1.6% to 3.1 billion euros.
Imports from the rest of the world also surged, with Germany importing 6.5% more by value in March than in the previous month, well ahead of a forecast of 0.7%, pushing the trade balance to its lowest level since last April.
The export surge lowered the trade balance to 14.3 billion euros ($17.2 billion), its lowest level since last April. ($1 = 0.8295 euros) (Reporting by Thomas Escritt and Rene Wagner; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Toby Chopra)