The deficit was down from the $21.7 billion trade gap in April 2011.
While the larger EU had a loss, the 17-member eurozone, countries that share the euro as currency, posted a surplus of $6.5 billion for April.
The surplus for the currency region compares to a deficit of $5.6 billion in April 2011 and a surplus of $9.4 billion in March 2012.
The EU surplus posted in trade with the United States rose to $22.8 billion in the first quarter of 2012 compared to $20.4 billion in the first quarter of 2011, Eurostat said.
The EU surplus in trade with Switzerland and Turkey fell.
Exports to India "remained stable" the data office said. With Russia and Brazil, exports from the EU rose 20 percent from the first quarter of 2011 to the same period of 2012, the largest gains reported.