Falling pound fails to boost exports
Britain's trade gap widened to a worse-than-expected £5.2bn in September as the plunging pound offered little help to boost flagging exports.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed the goods and services deficit - the gap between exports and imports - rose from £3.7bn in August as exports fell by £200m and imports lifted by £1.2bn.
The trade gap narrowed overall in the third quarter to £11bn from £12.6bn in the previous three months as exports of goods rose by 6.1% thanks to strong overseas demand in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote. Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said the figures "pour more cold water on hopes that sterling's depreciation will drive an export-led revival".
He said the Brexit-hit pound may help net trade next year but warned "the restructuring of the economy towards exports look set to be particularly sluggish". The ONS said imports hit a record £38.8bn in September, up by £1.3bn since August, due to growing demand for ships, material manufactures and road vehicles.