By Marcus Leach
The UK's trade deficit narrowed in March, despite an increase in the deficit on trade in oil and other fuels to more normal levels.
Data from the Office for National Statistics show that the goods trade deficit shrank to £9.06 billion from £9.17 billion in February, broadly in line with economists' forecasts.
The goods trade deficit with non-EU countries also narrowed to £3.47 billion from £4.21 billion in February, beating forecasts for a bigger gap of £4.1 billion.
“While it is pleasing to see an upturn in exports in March, Britain’s trade deficit remains disappointingly large. It is clear that we are not making enough progress in rebalancing the economy towards net exports," David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said.
"The figures also highlight the need to make further inroads into faster-growing regions across the rest of the world, while the eurozone, our biggest trading partner, continues to struggle.
“More action is needed to utilise the untapped potential of many British exporters, particularly in the services sector, so that businesses can drive a sustainable recovery. The government must implement measures it has previously announced to support firms looking to break into new markets. In addition, we clearly need a national export strategy focusing on key areas such as trade finance, insurance, and promotion, to enable companies to compete on equitable terms.”