Trade figures add to UK economy fears

9th February 2011

The UK trade deficit hit record levels in December as imports of aircraft jumped ahead of a change in VAT, and bad weather caused disruption at airports and ports.

According to statistics published today by the Office of National Statistics, the UK's deficit on trade in goods and services increased from £3.9bn in November to £4.8bn in December. This is the largest ever margin between the cost of the import and export of goods to the UK economy since records began in January 1980.

Combined with a sharp fall in GDP at the end of 2010, the figures may raise concern among economists that Britain's recovery will not be as swift as hoped.

The ONS figures show that the seasonally adjusted deficit on trade in goods was £9.2bn in December, compared with the deficit of £8.5bn in November. The seasonally adjusted surplus on trade in services was estimated at £4.4bn in December, compared with the surplus of £4.5bn in November.

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