LONDON, May 15 (Reuters) - Britain’s goods trade deficit stayed largely unchanged in March despite a rebound in exports to countries outside the European Union as overall imports also
grew to a record level, data showed on Tuesday.
“I thought it had the potential to do much better because last month we had a blowout in the February data with exports suffering quite heavily and imports still rising.
“Ordinarily you might have blamed that on the snow because imports can still get into the country because the River Thames didn’t freeze over, but exports struggled to get on the roads to the ports.
“Normally, when the snow melts you get the reverse of that and exports rebound. But that hasn’t really shown up, so you’d struggle to blame it on the weather.
“All in all, the trade data represents a drag on growth in the first quarter, which is reasonable because our overseas trading partners are not exactly firing on all cylinders, so demand for our goods is suffering.”
“My sense is that we probably got a negative drag from trade in Q1. The figures confirm our view that, in terms of visible trade, the UK is still running a chunky deficit, and if sterling were to continue to rise, it’s not going to help alleviate that position.
“UK exports are highly dependent on the euro zone, and that certainly means there are risks to the export side. But equally, with domestic demand being sluggish, there’s no impetus for imports either. The trend looks like we’re moving more or less sideways, certainly on the visible trade numbers.”
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