Figures show exports of goods and services rose by £1.3 billion but imports fell by £1.3 billion. 

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

“The January figures are better than expected, with the trade deficit narrowing and robust growth in exports in goods and services, as imports fell. While these figures reverse a disappointing performance seen in previous months, they support our assessment that the economy returned to positive growth in the first quarter of 2011, and that the recovery will be export-led.  

“But we cannot afford to be complacent. Since the Government’s tough deficit cuts will inevitably dampen domestic demand, Britain’s recovery will depend on a continued improvement in  our international trading position. The growth in exports must be sustained and accelerated. 

Our research shows that more than two-thirds of companies do not export. Britain’s exporters must be able to compete on equitable terms so that they can break into new markets overseas. In this month’s Budget, the Government needs to remove competitive disadvantages faced by British firms. Small and medium-sized companies are not given the same level of support as those in some of our major competitor countries, and they must be encouraged to move into fast-growing emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil.”