UK trade deficit narrows in Feb as imports, exports fall

LONDON Wed Apr 9, 2014 6:20pm BST

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's goods trade deficit narrowed in February helped by a fall in imports including aircraft and aircraft parts, official data showed on Wednesday.

The Office for National Statistics said the goods trade deficit shrank to 9.094 billion pounds from 9.463 billion pounds in January. Economists in a Reuters poll had forecast a gap of 9.2 billion pounds.

Britain has been seeking to boost exports as a way of reducing its reliance on consumer spending which has been the main driver of its surprisingly strong economic recovery over the past year.

Its trade performance has been volatile in recent months due to so-called erratic goods such as aircraft. Over the three months to the end of February, Britain's goods trade deficit narrowed by about 3 billion pounds to 26.219 billion pounds.

Goods exports in the month of February slowed to 23.547 billion pounds - its lowest since November 2010. Imports of goods also slowed to 32.641 billion pounds - the lowest monthly figure since April 2011.

The monthly figures tend to be volatile, but over the three months to February, exports fell 0.1 percent while imports were down 3.5 percent.

The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday said British exports as well as business investment had been disappointing even as it raised its forecast for the country's growth.

Including Britain's surplus in trade in services, the overall trade deficit narrowed slightly to 2.058 billion pounds.

The goods trade deficit with non-EU countries narrowed sharply to 2.919 billion pounds in February from 3.910 billion pounds in January, against forecasts for a gap of 3.4 billion pounds.

(Reporting by Ana Nicolaci da Costa and William Schomberg)

((uk.economics@reuters.com, Tel: +44 20 7542 5109))

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