UK exports rise and trade deficit narrows in latest figures

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Liam Fox

UK exports to the world have risen by £30.9bn – an increase of 5.2% over the same time last year with the overall trade deficit narrowing by £13.8 billion in the year to July 2018.

The news comes after the launch of the Export Strategy last month, which sets out a new ambition to increase exports as a proportion of UK GDP to 35%, making the UK one of the G7’s most successful exporters.

International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox MP said: “These trade figures show demand for UK goods and services is continuing to grow. As we open consultations for future trade relationships with key markets around the world, we’re seeing the UK shift towards selling more than we buy, with exports increasing faster than imports. My international economic department will continue work with companies across the country to ensure they’re making the most of global opportunities.”

Separate figures released by the ONS in June showed UK exports of goods and services to non-EU countries amounted to around £344bn in the 12 months ending March 2018, showing the worldwide demand for British goods and services remains. Exports to EU countries were around £276 billion in the same period.

Overall, exports of goods and services to non-EU countries have nearly trebled since 2000 – exports of goods and services to EU countries by comparison have nearly doubled. The UK also operates a trade surplus of more than £40bn with non-EU countries, with this having been a deficit as recently as 2010.

In 2017, eight of the 10 fastest growing markets for UK exports since 2010 were outside of the EU. Exports of services to the key non-EU markets of USA, China and Japan have all increased by more than 45% since 2010.

The UK’s current account deficit also narrowed to £79bn in 2017, down by £24bn from 12 months earlier. This is the narrowest deficit as a percentage of GDP since 2012.