Commenting on the trade figures for April published today by the ONS, David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

“These figures are mediocre, showing a marginal improvement in the deficit in goods and a similarly small decline in the surplus in services. But these follow weak March figures, and the monthly underlying fall in the volume of exports is a matter for concern. While longer term comparisons still show an improvement in Britain’s trading position, these figures are not as strong as they should be if we are to see a rebalancing of the UK economy.

“With weak consumer spending and the government’s austerity measures starting to bite, domestic demand will inevitably remain under pressure. Therefore, sustained economic growth must rely on a significant improvement in our trading position. We need to see a surge in exports and UK supplies replacing imports in the domestic market.

“The Government must do more to support British businesses, particularly small and mid-sized firms, in key areas such as trade finance, insurance and promotion. While low interest rates and a competitive pound will help companies in their export drive, the Government must do more to ensure that British businesses can compete on equitable terms.”