UK trade deficit holds steady for January as both exports and imports rise

 
Lian Parsons
Increased exports of aircraft and cars were noted by the ONS
Increased exports of aircraft and cars were noted by the ONS (Source: Getty)

The UK’s trade deficit remained broadly flat at £2bn in January as both export and import values rose, by 0.8 and 0.6 per cent respectively.

The deficit narrowed by £4.7bn to £6.4bn between the three months to January, and three months to October, though total trade balance had been revised upwards by £3.5bn after the ONS' fourth quarter release.

Read more: UK trade deficit narrows in fourth quarter

The unchanged balance of £2bn was due to an increase in exports and imports between December and January, though exports increased slightly more than imports (£400m as opposed to £300m).

Machinery, transport equipment and chemicals were the largest contributors to export increases, as oil and chemicals were to import rises. Imports of oil also increased from the non-EU countries.

Between December and January, export and import prices increased by 2.1 per cent and import prices increased 2.5 per cent, respectively.

Balance of UK trade from January 2015 to 2017
Balance of UK trade from January 2015 to 2017

Between 2015 and 2016, the deficit in trade in goods, excluding oil and erratics, widened from £114.1bn to £128.2bn. The deficit widened in each consecutive quarter of last year; imports and exports both increased, but the value of imports rose faster.

The volume of exports in goods excluding oil and erratics grew during the last six months of 2016 and has increased by 6.5 per cent since January of last year. Volumes of exports have also increased by 9.1 per cent during the same time, which could be due to the 13.1 per cent decrease in the value of the sterling since January 2016.

Trade in goods excluding oil and erratics, UK, January 2015 to January 2017
Trade in goods excluding oil and erratics, UK, January 2015 to January 2017

Read more: Biggest US trade deficit since 2012 fans the flames of Trump's nationalism

Trade within the EU in January 2017 was down 8.39 per cent, as compared to 7.87 per cent in the same month of last year.

Last year, nearly half of all UK exports went to six countries: the United States, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Republic of Ireland and China. The US received 15.7 per cent, the largest proportion of exported goods.

More than half of UK imports also came from only six countries: Germany, China, the U.S., the Netherlands, France and Belgium. Germany was the UK’s largest import partner last year, supplying 14.8 per cent of all imports.

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