Britain's goods trade deficit with the rest of the world unexpectedly widened in October after imports rose to their highest on record, raising questions about trade's contribution to future UK growth.
Exports also rose strongly to their highest since May 2006 helped by oil sales, but were outpaced by the rise in imports which the Office for National Statistics said was driven by imports of chemicals from the European Union.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that Britain's goods trade gap with the rest of the world widened to £8.5bn in October from an upwardly revised deficit of £8.3bn in September.
Economists had forecast a deficit of 8.05 billion pounds.
The goods trade gap with non-EU countries widened to £5bn from an upwardly revised £4.5bn. Analysts had forecast a deficit of £4.5bn.
Exports have supported economic growth in the last two quarters of this year, accounting for half of the 0.8 percent growth recorded in the third quarter.
The global goods trade deficit excluding oil and erratic goods was its highest since records began in 1992 at £8.2bn.