Goods trade deficit widened more than expected in November, unwinding the previous month's record narrowing as exports fell and imports of o widened more than expected in November, unwinding the previous month's record narrowing as exports fell and imports of oil and chemicals rose to record highs, official data showed.
The Office for National Statistics said that Britain's goods trade deficit widened to £8.644bn in November from £7.868bn in October, above forecasts for a deficit of £8.3bn.
The ONS said the widening was driven by lower exports to non-EU countries, and record imports of chemicals.
The goods trade gap with non-EU countries widened to £5.021bn in November from £4.556bn in October, broadly in line with forecasts.
The monthly trade figures tend to be volatile, but the figures will nonetheless reinforce concerns that Britain's economy is struggling to grow and may even fall into recession.
A survey this week showed British manufacturers' export sales and orders expanded at their slowest pace since late 2 009, when Britain was emerging from recession.
The overall decline in exports was driven by lower exports of silver, intermediate goods and consumer goods excluding cars to non-EU countries.
The ONS said that chemicals imports, including medical products, rose 12 per cent on the month to £4.5bn, the highest since records began in January 1998.
The value of oil imports rose to £4.652bn, also a record high, though the balance of trade in oil narrowed as exports also rose.
Wednesday's figures will do little to alter expectations that the Bank of England will need to inject more stimulus to boost growth after resuming its quantitative easing programme last October with a £75bn cash injection.
The central bank is unlikely to expand the programme this month, but is expected to add a further 50 billion pounds in February as the euro crisis threatens Britain's growth prospects.
Policymakers have long hoped that manufacturing will help drive Britain's recovery, but output growth has been hit b y falling demand for exports, while cash-strapped Britons are increasingly reining in spending, hurting domestic demand.