Subdued trade picture

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The latest trade figures for May were published this morning and they continue to show a fairly subdued trend in external demand. Here are the main points from the ONS release:

  • The deficit on trade in goods widened by £0.4bn to £26.3bn in the three months ending May 2014, compared with the previous three-month period.
  • Goods imports rose faster than exports - goods exports increased by £0.1bn (0.1%) to £72.6bn, while goods imports rose by £0.5bn (0.5%) to £98.9bn.
  • Exports of cars and of other consumer goods rose over the three-month period, but exports of all other major categories recorded declines.

Goods trade deficit(£ bn)

Source: Office for National Statistics

  • Over same three-month period, the deficit on trade in goods with EU countries narrowed by £1.7bn to £15.1bn.
  • Exports to the EU increased by £0.6bn (1.7%) to £36.6bn (mainly oil) and imports from the EU fell by £1.0bn (2%) to £51.7bn.
  • Deficit on trade in goods with non-EU countries widened by £2bn to £11.3bn.
  • Exports to the EU increased by £0.6bn (1.7%) to £36.6bn (mainly oil) and imports from the EU fell by £1.0bn (2%) to £51.7bn.
  • Exports to non-EU countries decreased by £0.5bn (1.5%) to £35.9bn and imports from non-EU countries increased by £1.5bn (3.3%) to £47.2bn.
  • As things stand, net trade likely to act as drag on Q2 UK GDP. In Q2 so far, total imports up 0.3% on Q1, while total exports down 0.7%.
  • The coalition government has set a target for the total value of UK exports of goods and services to rise to £1 trillion by 2020. As the chart below shows, the recent trend is not especially encouraging.

Total value of goods and services exports(£ bn)

Source; Office for National Statistics

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