The UK’s trade gap widened sharply in June, to its worst level since comparable records began in 1997. The deficit, which measures how much imported goods and services exceed exports, rose to £4.3bn in June from £2.7bn in May.
The rise was driven by a 4.6% month-on-month fall in the value of UK exports to eurozone and non-European Union countries. The deficit with non-EU nations rose to £5.2bn in June from £3.9bn in May.
Economists and analysts greeted the figures with dismay. BNP Paribas analyst David Tinsley said that even allowing for the reduced number of working days in June – because of the extra bank holiday from the Diamond Jubilee celebrations – the numbers were “very weak”.
“There’s clearly been a big impact from the low number of working days which has directly affecting shipments,” said Mr Tinsley. He added that the main disappointment was the deficit in services, and within that, partly in financial services. Vicky Redwood, analyst at Capital Economics, called the data “awful”, but said that the extra days off work could not be blamed for the growing deficit.