U.K. Goods Trade Deficit Widens In April On Falling Exports

By Dow Jones Business News, 

By Ilona Billington

LONDON--The U.K.'s trade deficit widened in April as exports were lower than in March, official data showed Friday.

The news that exports are failing to improve means the outlook for long-term sustainable economic growth remains tough because boosting the manufacture of goods and their sales overseas is a key factor in achieving growth.

The Office for National Statistics said the U.K.'s trade in goods deficit was GBP8.9 billion ($14.9 billion) in April. That is up from GBP8.3 billion in March and wider than economists expectations that the goods trade deficit was GBP8.7 billion.

The ONS statisticians said that the goods trade figure was affected by an omission in oil exports from Revenue and Customs. The government department noticed a mistake in the initial data that were sent to the ONS statisticians, where they underestimated the export of oil by GBP700 million.

However, the mistake was identified too late in the statistical process for the ONS to fully update its monthly trade bulletin. As a result the ONS have only been able to apply the new data to the final version of its statistical calculations.

ONS statistician Katherine Kent said at the release of the data Friday that GBP8.9 billion was an accurate figure for April's trade in goods balance.

Details of the release showed that the slowdown of 1.5% in exports was mainly due to a decline in demand for medical and pharmaceutical chemicals.

The data also showed that imports rose 0.8% in April from March, likely reflecting the continued improvement of the U.K. economy and rising consumer confidence as more jobs are created.

Other figures published by the ONS show that total trade in goods and services widened sharply to GBP1.8 billion in April from March's GBP1.1 billion.

Write to Ilona Billington at ilona.billington@wsj.com

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This article appears in: International , Economy

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