Murky picture for UK trade as goods exports fall again
December 13, 2022
Reacting to the ONS Trade figures for October, William Bain, Head of Trade Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “There was a cloudy trade picture in October as goods exports fell again – well short of forecast 2022 growth.
“The ONS Trade data shows a 4.7 per cent fall in the value of goods exports, although services held up better. Overall, though, export performance continued to undershoot the OBR’s eight per cent forecast growth for this year.
“After removing inflationary effects, imports rose, particularly from the EU. As fuel market volatility continued, gas and other fuel imports from the rest of the world were down in October.
“But with data for 10 of the 12 months of 2022 now in, it’s clear that the scale of growth in exports predicted last October is not happening.
“Nevertheless, over the three months until the end of this October, exports in both goods and services held up. Energy market fluctuations had an impact on trade data over this period.
“With tougher economic conditions most likely ahead, next year will need a step change in efforts by business and government to develop the Export Strategy to sustain trade volumes.”
Detailed analysis of data:
In October 2022, UK goods imports rose by 2.3 per cent after removing effects of inflation (values were 2.6% less before this removal).
Chemicals imports from the EU were the principal driver of the 8.3 per cent rise in EU goods imports values in October.
Falling gas prices were the main factor in the fall in non-EU goods export values in October 2022, by 11.6 per cent from their September 2022 peak. Goods exports values fell by 4.7 per cent in October 2022 after removing inflationary effects – 2.2 per cent fall before removing inflationary effects.
Falls in EU goods exports values were driven by lower sales of fuels but machinery and transport equipment rose slightly. The decrease in non-EU goods export values was largely down to falls in the material manufactures sector, with chemicals, machinery and transport equipment also slightly lower. Sales of oil to China rose.
On services, excluding inflation, imports fell to £16.6bn in October and exports to £27.5bn.
Looking at the three months to the end of October, total UK goods imports rose by 0.6 per cent, compared with the three months to end of July. Over the same timescale goods exports fell by 0.6 per cent. The services picture was better with a rise of 2.4 per cent in exports over that period accompanied by a 1.4 per cent rise in imports.
Total trade values over that period increased by 0.9 per cent in exports and 0.8 per cent in imports.
Excluding inflationary factors, the total trade deficit narrowed by £5.1bn in the three months until the end of October.