Rise in exports improves UK trade deficit

UK export

Exports from the UK rose more than imports in November, narrowing the country’s trade deficit for the month.

Official figures released today show that the seasonally adjusted deficit on trade in goods and services amounted to an estimated GBP3.5bn in November, compared with GBP3.7bn in October.

Nevertheless, the UK still has a significant deficit on its trade in goods which is only partially offset by a surplus on trade in services. In November 2012 the UK’s deficit on trade in goods was GBP9.2bn, an improvement of GBP0.3bn compared with October, and there was an estimated surplus of GBP5.7bn on the trade in services, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Total goods exports from the UK increased by 2.9% to GBP24.8bn, led by chemical sales, while imports rose by 1.1% to £34.0bn.

The ONS highlighted the fact that there has been a decline in the UK’s exports of goods to countries in the European Union, its biggest trading partner.

In the three months to November 2012 exports to the EU fell by 3.7% year-on-year, while exports to the rest of the world rose by 6.8%.

David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), commented that the average monthly deficit of around GBP3bn is too large and reflects the fact that the UK is not yet making sufficient progress in rebalancing its economy towards net exports.

The BCC’s director general, John Longworth, called on the government to do more to put international trade at the top of its agenda over the coming months and said that businesses “need all the help they can get if they are to succeed in driving an export-led recovery.” As an example, he suggested the introduction of an Export Voucher scheme to help businesses start exporting.

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