The UK trade deficit shrank sharply by 2 billion GBP to 965 million GBP in February, compared to the revised 2.959 billion GBP reported last month. This is the smallest trade deficit since September, with data below a deficit of 2.6 billion GBP.
The goods and services imports in the United Kingdom shrank by 4.8% to 53.41 billion GBP against a record 56.11 billion GBP reported in January. The sharp decline was due to a 6.5% decrease in imports of goods from the fuel and industry sectors. The EU imports into the UK decreased by 0.8%, mainly from France (-3.9%) and the Netherlands (-1.9%). In addition, purchases from non-EU countries declined by 13.3%, the largest decline being recorded for imported goods from Norway – by 32%, the US – by 20.1% and Japan – by 16.1%.
The exports of goods and services from the UK dropped by 1.3% to 52.45 billion GBP in February. Among the main trading partners, exports of goods to non-EU countries shrank by 4.7% – most for the US by 17.1%. However, exports of goods to the EU grew slightly by 0.3%, with sales increasing mainly in Germany (8.2%) and Ireland (3%).
Meanwhile, it became clear that British industrial production contracted for the first time in 11 months in February, mainly due to a decline in machinery and equipment production.
Manufacturing declined by 0.2% compared with January, when production remained unchanged, according to the data of the National Statistics. Total industrial production grew by less than the projected 0.1%, as keeping temperatures below average increased demand for energy. This has put an end to unprecedented growth for producers, which have helped to strengthen the economy.
The United Kingdom remains at the bottom of the G7 growth countries, making it the slowest growing economy in the world in 2017. The economic growth of 1.4% is weaker than that of Japan and Italy – the other slowest expansion countries in the conditions of the development of the global economy.
Initially, the British GDP grew by 0.5% in the last quarter of last year, but in February the data was revised downwards.