By Maximilian Clarke

The UK's trade deficit climbed to £1.8bn having narrowed to a long-term low off the back of record export growth in December.

The services deficit dipped £0.2bn on the back of falls in imports and exports, whilst the goods deficit widened to £7.5bn. Whilst the eurozone remains a key market, exports of goods fared more positively in non-EU, high growth markets.

The coalition government, spearheaded by trade minister Lord Green, are actively focusing on boosting trade with high growth or ‘emerging’ markets in order to trade the UK’s embattled economy into growth. Economic fragility among the UK’s traditional trading partners in Europe strengthen the need for a more global approach to trade.

The increase in total exports of goods was driven by higher exports of cars (up £0.5 billion), particularly to non-EU countries including the US, Russia and China, and oil (up £0.3 billion), particularly to EU countries including the Netherlands and Germany. These were offset by lower exports of chemicals (down £0.2 billion) and consumer goods other than cars (down £0.1 billion) to EU and non-EU countries.

The increase in total imports of goods was made up of higher imports of oil (up £0.4 billion) from EU and particularly non-EU countries including Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Russia, chemicals (up £0.3 billion), particularly from EU countries including Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, and also from non-EU countries including the US and Switzerland, and intermediate goods (up £0.2 billion) from EU and non-EU countries. These were offset by lower imports of capital goods (down £0.2 billion) from EU countries.

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