Reacting to the ONS Trade figures for November, William Bain, Head of Trade Policy at the BCC, said: “UK trade performance improved in November led by a 6.1% increase in goods imports (adjusted for inflation). Goods exports also picked up, rising by 1.7%, but concerns about the impact of the Brexit deal continue due to a 1.2% fall in goods exports to the EU.
“Early estimates of trade in services showed a flat picture – with exports down by 0.2%, and imports by 0.6%, adjusted for inflation.
“Looking at a comparison over the three months to the end of November with the three months to the end of August, goods exports to the EU were 4.9% lower over that period.
“While the UK did better than its peers in overall trade in November, the Export Strategy needs to deliver in 2023 given the global economic headwinds UK goods and services exports are currently facing.”
Detailed analysis of data:
In November 2022, UK goods imports rose by 6.1% after removing effects of inflation (values were 3.5% less before this removal). The rise in goods imports from the EU was led by higher machinery and transport equipment imports (ship imports from Finland were particularly noteworthy). Non-EU goods imports were boosted by higher sales of cars from China and aircraft from the US. Fuel imports from Qatar and Norway continued to fall in November.
Falls in EU goods exports values were driven by lower sales of fuels for the fourth consecutive month. The rise in non-EU goods export values was largely down to increases in machinery and transport equipment sales, including aircraft to Qatar and motor vehicles to the US and China.
On services, excluding inflation, imports fell to £17.8bn in November and exports to £29.5bn – a reduction of 0.6% and 0.2% respectively from October.
Looking at the 3 months to the end of November, total UK goods imports from both the EU and outside the EU fell by 3.2%, compared with the 3 months to end of August. The fall in EU goods exports over that period was 4.9%. Over the same timescale overall goods exports fell by 1.5%.
The services picture was better with a rise of 2.0% in exports over that period offset by a 1.2% decline in imports. Total trade values over that period increased by 0.3% in exports but were 2.6% lower in imports.
Excluding inflationary factors, the total trade deficit narrowed by £3.8bn in the three months to the end of November.