The UK's goods trade deficit widened less than expected in January, keeping hopes alive that the economy is rebalancing.
Total goods exports to non-EU countries rose to a record high, helped by car sales to the United States, Russia and China. Total oil exports also hit a record peak due to higher oil prices, though Britain's deficit in trade in oil widened.
The Office for National Statistics said the goods trade deficit grew to £7.53bn in January - versus forecasts for £7.88bn.
As expected this was up from two-year low of £7.2bn in December, which had been the narrowest since December 2009.
Overall goods imports rose faster than exports as Britain sucked in oil from Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Russia as well as chemical products from Germany, the Netherlands and the United States.
The total trade deficit, which includes services, widened to £1.8bn from £1.2bn, after Britain's surplus in services fell.