IoD: ‘Widening trade deficit is no reason to panic, but we should be mindful of future’

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Responding to today’s official trade statistics, which show a consistent widening of the UK’s trade deficit, Allie Renison, Head of EU and Trade Policy at the Institute of Directors, said:

“The figures today show that the volatility of erratic commodities can swing wildly from month to month, and so the increasing gap in our trade balance should not itself be cause for concern. We would caution against reading too much into the headline figure, but instead focus on EU and non-EU data trends.

“What matters is the fact that import levels are still far and away outstripping the pace of exports, underlining the muted effect that sterling’s depreciation has had on the UK’s outbound trade. This highlights that price is not the main determinant for how UK products and services fare overseas, and also shows that imports – a critical component for many companies – cannot easily be substituted in the near term.

“The continued decrease in exports to non-EU countries, offset by a sustained rise in exports to the EU, also highlights how difficult it will be for UK businesses to simply replace any loss of EU market access through Brexit with new market opportunities elsewhere