Commenting on the trade figures for January 2013, published today by the ONS, David Kern, Chief Economist for the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said:
• UK trade deficit in goods and services was £2.4bn in January 2013, compared with a deficit of £2.8bn in December 2012
• Underlying export volumes were unchanged in the three months to January, while import volumes fell by 2% in the same period
“Although Britain’s trade deficit is still too large, that the January figures were better than predicted, and there was also a downward revision to the December shortfall. While the falling trade deficit in January may improve the prospects that GDP growth will be positive, it is too early to draw firm conclusions. We must take into account the poor construction figures, and the latest industrial production figures, which were disappointingly weak.
“More effective action is needed to ensure that the considerable untapped potential of many British exporters can be used to drive a sustainable recovery. The government must implement the measures it has already announced to support companies seeking to break into new markets. We clearly need a national export strategy that focuses on key areas such as trade finance, promotion, and insurance, and would enable British companies to compete in the global arena.”