Britain’s trade gap widened to a worse-than-expected £5.2 billion in September as the slide in sterling did little to lift exports.
Official figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the goods and services deficit – the gap between exports and imports – rose from £3.8bn in August as exports fell by £200 million and imports lifted by £1.2bn.
However, the trade gap narrowed overall in the third quarter to £11bn from £12.7bn in the previous three months as exports of goods rose by 6.1 per cent thanks to strong overseas demand in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote.
Commenting on the quarterly numbers, Mark Emmerson, HSBC’s head of global trade and receivables finance UK, said: “These latest figures are welcome news in a period characterised by uncertainty. We know that SMEs in particular are looking for more support to grow internationally.”
International trade secretary Liam Fox said the third-quarter figures were a “positive boost for British businesses and shows clearly the UK remains an attractive place with which to trade and do business”.
“But there is clearly still a lot of work to do to, and that is why we will be supporting UK businesses as we reach out to new markets to position the UK as a global leader in free trade,” he added.