“These figures are mixed and slightly disappointing. In September, manufacturing rose less than expected, and exports fell - but imports fell even more. Overall, the result was an improvement in the UK net trade balance.
"On the positive side, longer-term comparisons still confirm that the re-balancing of the economy is on course. Manufacturing has now risen faster than services for four quarters in a row, and the rise in exports was stronger than imports in the third quarter. But it is important to reinforce the pace.
"With the forthcoming deficit-cutting programme set to become more aggressive in 2011, domestic demand will be under serious pressure, and the UK economy risks declines without significant growth in our net exports.
"The Government must make sure that our exporters receive all the necessary support, and are not placed at a competitive disadvantage in key areas such as short-term trade finance. On their part, British exporters must reinforce their efforts to diversify into fast-growing emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil.”