By Marcus Leach

Official figures have shown that the UK trade deficit in goods and services was £2.7bn in September, compared with a deficit of £4.3bn in August.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the UK recorded a deficit of £8.4bn in trade in goods following a 1.1% rise in exports and a 3.9% decline in imports. This was offset by a £5.7bn surplus in services, unchanged on the month.

David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said that this progress in UK exports must be strengthened.

“Although an improvement in the trade deficit in September was unsurprising after the setback we saw in August, the progress was better than expected," he said.

"Underlying export volumes rose by 4.1% in the third quarter, while imports fell slightly over the same period. Longer term comparisons show that exports rose more than imports on an annual basis, reversing the disappointing trends seen at the beginning of the year.

“It is encouraging that exports to non-EU countries were stronger than exports to the slow growing European Union in both the second and third quarters of this year. This welcome development must be supported as the UK is still experiencing a significant trade deficit. The government must do everything in its power to help UK exporters move to faster growing areas outside the EU. Exporting companies have huge untapped potential to expand, but they need the right backing to help them compete on equitable terms and break into new markets.

“Firmer action from the government is needed in key areas such as trade finance, promotion and insurance, which we hope the Chancellor will address in his Autumn Statement next month. But this must be part of a general shift in priorities towards more policies to boost growth.”

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