UK trade gap widens as weak pound fails to aid exports
The UK’s trade gap widened to £4.2bn in November as the collapse in the value of the pound failed to significantly boost exports.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that the goods and services deficit — the gap between exports and imports — increased by £2.6bn from October.
The figures reflect a £3.3bn increase in imports, while Britain recorded only £700m of export trade.
The ONS said: “The widening of the deficit in November 2016 is attributed to trade in goods in which there were increased imports from both EU and non-EU countries, partially offset by an increase in exports to EU countries.”
Sterling fell on the news, with the battered pound down 0.47% to $1.21 on the day.
The statistics body also released data on industrial output, which showed more encouraging signs.
Industrial output rose by 2.1% in November, ahead of economists’ expectations, helped by an increase in oil and gas output and a 1.2% rise in manufacturing activity.
Senior ONS statistician Kate Davies said the figures “continue to paint a mixed picture of the UK’s economic performance”.
“Production saw significant growth, mainly down to increased oil and gas output as the Buzzard field came back online along with a boost from the volatile pharmaceuticals industry,” she said. “However, the trade deficit widened as imports of transport equipment, chemicals and portable computers helped eclipse rising exports, while falls in repair work and commercial building led to a small overall decline in construction.”
Construction output in November contracted for a second consecutive month, falling 0.2%.