Latest trade figures ‘paint gloomy picture’ says British Chambers of Commerce

12 October 2017


Latest trade figures released today (Tuesday Oct 10) by The Office For National Statistics (ONS) show a far weaker position than usual for this time of year, British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) says.

BCC head of economics, Suren Thiru, said that, taken alongside the recent widening of the current account deficit, the figures paint a “rather gloomy picture” of the UK’s trading position.

The figures show that the UK’s trade deficit in goods soared to a record high in August and that exporters had not gained any commercial advantage from the lower value of the pound following the Brexit vote in June 2016 which makes UK goods cheaper for overseas buyers.

The latest figures show that, in the three months to August, Britain’s trade deficit in goods rose by £1.4bn to £14.2bn as the country imported more chemicals, machinery and textiles. Exports fell 2.7 per cent while imports rose 3.9 per cent. At the same time, Britain imported more than £22bn of goods from the EU in August, but exported only £14bn.

Suren Thiru said: “The latest trade data paints a rather gloomy picture and is further evidence that the decline in sterling’s value during the past year is doing little to boost the UK’s trade position. 

“Businesses continue to report that the post-EU referendum weakness in sterling is hurting as much as helping. Firms continue to face higher import costs due to the weakening currency, particularly those locked into global supply chains. For companies that rely on overseas suppliers for their production equipment, a weak pound also makes investment in growth less viable.

“Businesses want to see comprehensive trade talks start in the EU negotiations before the end of the year, and need answers to practical questions about our trading relationship with Europe after March 2019.

“It is also vital that more is done to help firms take advantage of new trading opportunities, including greater practical assistance for exporters and tackling some of the UK’s longstanding issues including the chronic skill shortages and cost of doing business.”


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