By Maximilian Clarke

The UK’s trade deficit narrowed over the last month to reach near record highs, as uncertainty among the UK’s chief trading partners erodes export confidence.

Given the challenging conditions in the UK and low domestic demand, exports- particularly those in high growth, emerging markets will be crucial to supporting the UK’s economy. Discussing the prospects for UK exports, and the need for new avenues of growth, is David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce.

“Disappointing trade figures for September show that the deficit increased over the month, and the initial estimate for the August deficit revised up. It is concerning that the volume of exports fell in September, compared with August, while import volumes grew," he said.

“As the fiscal austerity plan squeezes domestic demand, an improvement in net exports is critical to Britain’s recovery. We should not place too much weight on one month’s figure, but the figures do raise concerns about the challenges facing UK exports. The difficult situation in the eurozone is worrying for UK exporters, particularly as Europe will remain our biggest trading partner for some time.

“Unless growth in exports accelerates, and British businesses gain market share from imports, it will be difficult to sustain growth in the UK. The government must support a national export drive, and strengthen support for businesses in key areas such as trade finance, insurance and promotion. A competitive pound will help our exporters, but more must be done to ensure that British businesses compete equitably with foreign exporters. If we’re to see the rebalancing of the economy that we need for recovery, British businesses must be encouraged to take risks and seek out new markets, such as India and China.”

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