Malaysia's exports fell 0.8% in March from a year earlier, government data showed on Friday, a smaller decline than economists had forecast.

Exports had been expected to fall 2.1% in March, according to 16 economists surveyed by Reuters.

Imports in March rose 12.5% from a year earlier, data from the trade ministry showed, stronger than a 7.7% increase expected in the Reuters poll.

Malaysia recorded a trade surplus of 12.81 billion ringgit ($2.68 billion) in March. ($1 = 4.7820 ringgit) (Reporting by Danial Azhar; Editing by John Mair)