ONS – UK trade, April 2014
The deficit of trade in goods and services for April 2014 was £2.5bn, compared with £1.1bn in the previous month. The deficit on trade in goods was £9.6bn in April 2014; the trade position reflects exports minus imports.
Exports of goods decreased by 4.4% (an estimated £1.1bn) between March and April 2014 to £23.4bn. However HMRC have informed ONS that through routine quality assurance, omissions have been identified resulting in exports of oil being underestimated by about £700 million. Unfortunately this was identified too late to incorporate into this publication. This is entirely attributed to exports of oil to the EU.
Excluding this factor, exports still fell between March and April, attributed to falls in semi-manufactured goods with exports of chemical manufacturers and material manufacturers contributing a combined £0.3bn to the overall decrease.
Imports of goods for the same period increased by 0.8% to £33.0bn. The rise reflects increases in almost all key commodities, notably imports of food, beverages and tobacco which rose by £0.1bn between March and April. Imports of manufactured goods were generally quiet in April, rising marginally from March due to several offsetting movements at a lower commodity level. Imports of ships was the most significant increase at this level with a monthly movement of £0.2bn. This was attributed entirely to trade with countries outside the EU where the import level of ships reached a record high of £0.3bn in April 2014.
In April 2014, exports of goods to the European Union (EU) decreased by £0.5bn, but this all related to the underestimation of oil exports mentioned above. Imports from the EU increased by £0.4bn to £17.5bn, reflecting increases in imports of manufactured goods (specifically chemicals) and food beverages and tobacco.
In April 2014, exports of goods to countries outside of the EU decreased by £0.5bn to £11.7bn, due mainly to widespread falls in exports of manufactured goods. Imports from countries outside of the EU decreased by £0.2bn to £15.5bn, reflecting falls in imports of manufactured goods and fuels.
Trade statistics for any one month can be erratic. For that reason, it is recommended to compare the latest three months against the preceding three months and the same three months of the preceding year.
The deficit on trade in goods narrowed by £0.1bn to £26.7bn in the three months to April 2014, compared with the previous three months. Exports of goods decreased by £2.3bn to £71.3bn in the three months to April 2014, reflecting a £1.4bn fall in exports of manufactured goods; £0.7bn of this decrease is attributed to exports of transport machinery and equipment and a further £0.5bn to exports of material manufactures. Imports of goods decreased by £2.4bn to £98.0bn in the same period. Imports of manufactured goods account for roughly two fifths of the decrease, falling £1.0bn from the previous three months. A further fall of £0.9bn was attributed to imports of fuels (specifically oil).
This bulletin also reports on trade in services. However, the information on trade in services is mainly obtained from quarterly surveys, in some cases underpinned by larger annual surveys. That means that the data for the latest months are inevitably uncertain. For this reason comparisons of Q1 2014 with the previous quarter have been made rather than the three months to April 2014.
For Q1 2014, both exports and imports of services have been revised as the latest quarterly survey estimates have been included. Between Q4 2013 and Q1 2014 exports of services increased 1.7% to a record high of £52.1bn. Within exports, there were increases in travel services and other business services. Imports of services in Q1 2014 were £30.6bn, a record high, an increase of 1.5% from the previous quarter mainly attributed to increases in imports of other business services.