By Daniel Hunter
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) have released data that shows the UK's trade deficit narrowed in November.
The main reason for the closing of the gap was a rise in exports that outpaced that of imports.
The official figures show that that seasonally-adjusted deficit on goods and services totalled £3.5 billion in November, compared with £3.7 billion in October.
Led by chemical sales, the UK's total goods exports increased by 2.9% to £24.8 billion, while imports rose by 1.1% to £34 billion.
The UK's export and import of services in November remained unchanged. Services exports were valued at £15.5 billion, while imports totalled £9.8 billion.
"UK trade data have been particularly volatile recently, and may well have been influenced by special factors, such as the Olympics," John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said.
"Despite the slightly improved trade deficit seen in November, the figures suggest the external sector is still failing to provide any support to the recovery. The new data means the trade deficit was more than £7bn in the first two months of the fourth quarter. With a turnaround in December looking unlikely, net trade may well act as a drag on GDP growth in the final quarter of the year.
“Over the coming months, the government must do more to put international trade at the top of its agenda. There is still a lot of pressure on exports due to weak domestic demand and soft global growth, so UK businesses need all the help they can get if they are to succeed in driving an export-led recovery.
"Expanding trade promotion budgets is a good start, but why not go even further and introduce an Export Voucher scheme to help businesses on the cusp of exporting, so they can expand their capabilities and tap into fast-growing markets abroad. According to our latest economic survey, exports in the service sector have improved, which is encouraging, but this must not be choked off by a lack of access to finance to fund growth."
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