UK trade deficit expands

The UK trade deficit in goods and services widened to £2.6 billion in November 2011, from a revised £1.9 billion in October, according to Office of National Statistics figures.

David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce says that while the figures are largely as expected given the strong improvement seen in October, they are disappointing. ‘Longer-term comparisons show that the rebalancing of the economy towards exports is going ahead, but the pace is inadequate and must be strengthened,’ he says.

‘The difficult challenges facing the global economy, particularly in the Eurozone, mean that exporters will have to work hard to maintain their position in world markets. While the government rightly continues to reduce the deficit, there will be a knock-on effect on domestic demand – making a strong export performance critical to Britain’s future.’

Kern continues that net exports should be the main engine of the recovery and that the government ‘must support a national export drive’, with more support for firms in key areas such as trade finance, insurance and promotion.

He adds, ‘Though a competitive pound and low interest rates can help our exporters, further efforts are needed to ensure that British businesses can compete equitably with foreign exporters. On their part, British exporters must reinforce their efforts to diversify sales to fast-growing economies, particularly in Asia.’

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