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UK trade deficit smaller in September

A better than expected improvement was seen in the UK’s trade deficit in September, official figures showed today.

With higher exports and a smaller imports over the month, the UK’s deficit on trade in goods and services amounted to an estimated £2.7bn in September, compared with a deficit of £4.3bn in August and £3.5bn in September 2011.

The Office for National Statistics said that the UK had a deficit of £8.4bn on goods, which was partly offset by an estimated surplus of £5.7bn on services.

From August to September, UK manufacturers saw their total exports of goods increase by 1.1% while imports of goods decreased by 3.9%. Notably, exports increased to countries outside the European Union but there was a decrease in exports to recession-hit markets in Europe.

David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, highlighted this continuing trend of stronger exports to non-EU countries and said that it should be supported because the UK still has a significant trade deficit.

“The government must do everything in its power to help UK exporters move to faster growing areas outside the EU. Exporting companies have huge untapped potential to expand, but they need the right backing to help them compete on equitable terms and break into new markets,” he added.

Overall, the positive trade figures contributed to the UK economy growing by 1% in the third quarter after three consecutive quarters in recession.

There has been considerable volatility in the monthly trade figures over the past few months but a clearer picture of the underlying movements in the data can be seen by looking at a longer time period.

Across the whole of the third quarter of 2012, the UK’s trade in goods and services was estimated to have been in deficit by £8.5bn. This is a decrease from the deficit of £10.1bn in the preceding quarter but a slight increase from the £8bn deficit in the third quarter of 2011.


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