Mixed news for exporters as trade gap grew in September

Britain's trade gap was worse than expected in September but narrowed overall in the third quarter. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
Britain's trade gap was worse than expected in September but narrowed overall in the third quarter. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
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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.

READ MORE: Scotch exports rise as boost from weak pound looms

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.

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