The UK Statistics Authority on 18 June decided to temporarily suspend the National Statistics status of the April 2014 UK Trade statistics publication (all other UK Trade publications retained their National Statistics status). This was because the Authority felt it was inappropriate for statistics based on known omissions to have the same status as previous statistics in the same series. The Authority also stated that they anticipated that once the April 2014 UK Trade release was updated to fully reflect the oil exports omitted in the original publication, National Statistics designation would be reinstated.
The April 2014 UK Trade release was updated at 9.30am on 26 June 2014 to reflect the oil exports omission that users were informed of in the original bulletin published on 6 June 2014 and the Authority has confirmed that this release has regained National Statistics status. Users should also note that in order to process the revised oil data, other very small revisions are also visible in the dataset. There are likely to be further revisions to April 2014 as later data are received prior to publication of the May 2014 UK Trade release on 10 July.
|Balance of trade in goods||Balance of trade in services||Total trade balance|
The deficit of trade in goods and services for April 2014 was £1.8 billion, compared with £1.1 billion in the previous month. The deficit on trade in goods was £8.9 billion in April 2014; the trade position reflects exports minus imports.
Exports of goods decreased by 1.5% between March and April 2014 to £24.1 billion, reflecting a decrease in exports of semi-manufactured goods of £0.3 billion. Within semi-manufactured goods, exports of chemical manufactures fell by £0.2 billion and exports of material manufactures fell by £0.1 billion.
Imports of goods for the same period increased by 0.8% to £33.0 billion. The rise reflects increases in almost all key commodities, notably imports of food, beverages and tobacco which rose by £0.1 billion 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 £0.2 billion. This was attributed entirely to trade with countries outside the EU where the import level of ships reached a record high of £0.3 billion in April 2014.
In April 2014, exports of goods to the European Union (EU) increased by £0.2 billion to £12.4 billion, reflecting an increase of £0.1 billion in finished manufactures. Imports from the EU increased by £0.4 billion to £17.5 billion, 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 £0.5 billion to £11.7 billion, due mainly to widespread falls in exports of manufactured goods. Imports from countries outside of the EU decreased by £0.2 billion to £15.5 billion, 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 £0.8 billion to £26.0 billion in the three months to April 2014, compared with the previous three months. Exports of goods decreased by £1.6 billion to £72.0 billion in the three months to April 2014, reflecting a £1.4 billion fall in exports of manufactured goods; £0.7 billion of this decrease is attributed to exports of machinery and transport equipment and a further £0.5 billion to exports of material manufactures. Imports of goods decreased by £2.4 billion to £98.0 billion in the same period. Imports of manufactured goods account for roughly two fifths of the decrease, falling £1.0 billion from the previous three months. A further fall of £0.9 billion was attributed to imports of fuels.
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 £52.1 billion. Within exports, there were increases in travel services and other business services. Imports of services in Q1 2014 were £30.6 billion, a record high, an increase of 1.5% from the previous quarter mainly attributed to increases in imports of other business services.
The value of trade in goods grew steadily from the beginning of 2007 to mid 2008. The onset of the global economic downturn in mid-2008 affected the economic performance of the UK's major trading partners, and the value of both UK exports and imports fell sharply until Q2 2009. Growth in the value of trade in goods resumed from mid-2009 with improving global economic conditions. However, the value of both UK exports and imports have remained largely flat since mid-2011 with the continuing difficulties in many economies.
In 2013, the deficit on trade in goods narrowed by £0.8 billion to £107.9 billion (annually). The level of exports increased to a record £304.8 billion in 2013, up 1.4% from £300.5 billion in 2012.
However, the rise in exports was accompanied by an increase in imports to a record £412.6 billion in 2013, up 0.9% from £409.2 billion in 2012. Despite these record levels of exports and imports, annual growth in the value of trade in goods has slowed considerably since 2010 and 2011.
In April 2014, the UK's deficit on trade in goods was £8.9 billion, £0.6 billion higher than in March 2014.
Total exports decreased by £0.4 billion (1.5%) to £24.1 billion and total imports increased by £0.3 billion (0.8%) to £33.0 billion. At the commodity level the data are shown in the following table.
|Exports (£m)||Imports (£m)|
|Oil (see section on 'trade in oil')||+30||+65|
|Consumer goods other than cars||-55||-122|
|Semi-manufactured goods other than chemicals||-138||-70|
This chart was updated at 9.30am on 26 June 2014 to reflect the oil exports omission that users were informed of in the orginal April 2014 UK Trade bulletin published on 6 June 2014.
In the three months ending April 2014, the deficit on trade in goods was £26.0 billion, narrowing by £0.8 billion from the previous three months.
Total exports decreased by £1.6 billion (2.2%) to £72.0 billion and total imports decreased by £2.4 billion (2.4%) to £98.0 billion. At the commodity level the data are shown in the following table.
|Exports (£m)||Imports (£m)|
|Oil (see section on 'trade in oil')||-183||-727|
|Consumer goods other than cars||+127||-100|
|Semi-manufactured goods other than chemicals||-508||-452|
In April 2014, the deficit on trade in goods with EU countries widened by £0.3 billion to £5.1 billion.
Exports to the EU increased by £0.2 billion (1.3%) to £12.4 billion and imports from the EU increased by £0.4 billion (2.5%) to £17.5 billion. At the commodity level the data are shown in the following table.
|Exports (£m)||Imports (£m)|
|Oil (see section on 'trade in oil')||+9||+110|
|Consumer goods other than cars||+22||-38|
|Semi-manufactured goods other than chemicals||+1||-10|
In the three months ending April 2014, the deficit on trade in goods with EU countries was £15.9 billion, narrowing by £1.4 billion from a £17.3 billion deficit in the previous three months.
Exports to the EU decreased by £0.5 billion (1.5%) to £36.1 billion and imports from the EU decreased by £1.9 billion (3.6%) to £52.0 billion. At the commodity level the data are shown in the following table.
|Exports (£m)||Imports (£m)|
|Oil (see section 'trade in oil')||+197||-811|
|Consumer goods other than cars||-166||+77|
|Semi-manufactured goods other than chemicals||-244||-353|
In April 2014, the deficit on trade in goods with non-EU countries widened by £0.4 billion to £3.8 billion.
Exports to non-EU countries decreased by £0.5 billion (4.3%) to £11.7 billion and imports from non-EU countries decreased by £0.2 billion (1.1%) to £15.5 billion. At the commodity level the data are shown in the following table.
|Exports (£m)||Imports (£m)|
|Oil (see section on 'trade in oil')||+21||-45|
|Consumer goods other than cars||-77||-84|
|Semi-manufactured goods other than chemicals||-139||-60|
In the three months ending April 2014, the deficit on trade in goods with non-EU countries was £10.1 billion, widening by £0.6 billion from a £9.5 billion deficit in the previous three months.
Exports to non-EU countries decreased by £1.1 billion (2.9%) to £35.9 billion and imports from non-EU countries decreased by £0.5 billion (1.1%) to £46.0 billion. At the commodity level the data are shown in the following table.
|Exports (£m)||Imports (£m)|
|Oil (see section on 'trade in oil')||-380||+84|
|Consumer goods other than cars||+293||-177|
|Semi-manufactured goods other than chemicals||-264||-99|
Note: Monthly country movements are only detailed in this section where they are equal to or exceed £0.1 billion.
Within EU countries, exports of goods to Germany increased by £0.2 billion. Among countries outside of the EU, exports of goods to the USA decreased by £0.1 billion.
Within EU countries, imports of goods from the Netherlands increased by £0.2 billion and imports from Belgium & Luxembourg increased by £0.1 billion. Among countries outside of the EU, imports of goods from China decreased by £0.3 billion.
|Exports (£m)||Imports (£m)|
|April 2014 Value||1-month Change||April 2014 Value||1-month Change|
|10||United Arab Emirates||510||-1||10||Irish Republic||783||-48|
Note: Three monthly country movements are only detailed in this section where they are equal to or exceed £0.3 billion.
Within EU countries, exports of goods to both Belgium & Luxembourg and Germany increased by £0.5 billion, exports to France decreased by £1.1 billion and exports to both the Netherlands and the Irish Republic decreased by £0.4 billion. Among countries outside of the EU, there were no export movements equal to or exceeding £0.3 billion.
Within EU countries, imports of goods from Germany increased by £0.5 billion, imports from the Irish Republic decreased by £1.0 billion, from the Netherlands decreased by £0.8 billion and from both Belgium & Luxembourg and Italy decreased by £0.4 billion. Among countries outside of the EU, imports of goods from China increased by £1.1 billion, imports from Norway increased by £0.4 billion and imports from the USA decreased by £0.8 billion.
|Exports (£m)||Imports (£m)|
|February - April 2014 Value||Three Monthly change||February - April 2014 Value||Three Monthly change|
|10||United Arab Emirates||1,545||-57||10||Irish Republic||2,458||-972|
Between April 2014 and March 2014, the total volume of exports decreased by 2.6% and the total volume of imports increased by 0.7%. At the commodity level the data are shown in the following table.
|Exports % change||Imports % change|
|Food, beverages and tobacco||-3.6||+6.1|
|Semi-manufactured goods; of which||-5.0||+1.0|
|Finished manufactured goods; of which||-1.7||0.0|
|Consumer goods other than cars||-3.3||-2.8|
In the three months ending April 2014, the volume of exports increased by 0.8% and the volume of imports increased by 0.2%, when compared with the previous three months. At the commodity level the data are shown in the following table.
|Exports % change||Imports % change|
|Food, beverages and tobacco||0.0||-0.7|
|Semi-manufactured goods; of which||-1.4||+0.7|
|Finished manufactured goods; of which||+0.3||+0.3|
|Consumer goods other than cars||+1.4||+0.3|
In April 2014, compared with March 2014, export prices decreased by 0.5% and import prices decreased by 1.1%. Excluding the oil price effect, export prices decreased by 0.3% and import prices decreased by 1.1%.
In the three months ending April 2014, when compared with the previous three months, export prices decreased by 1.0% and import prices decreased by 1.3%. Excluding the oil price effect, export prices decreased by 0.7% and import prices decreased by 1.1%.
In April 2014, the balance on trade in oil was in deficit by £0.6 billion, compared with a deficit of £0.5 billion in March 2014. Oil exports increased by less than £0.1 billion to £2.9 billion and oil imports increased by less than £0.1 billion to £3.5 billion.
In the three months ending April 2014, the balance on trade in oil was in deficit by £1.9 billion, compared with a deficit of £2.5 billion in the previous three months. Oil exports decreased by £0.2 billion to £8.6 billion and oil imports decreased by £0.7 billion to £10.5 billion.
In April 2014, the UK's estimated surplus on trade in services was £7.1 billion.
Exports in April 2014 were estimated to have been £17.3 billion and imports £10.2 billion.
In the three months ending April 2014, the estimated surplus on trade in services was £21.5 billion.
Total exports were £52.1 billion and total imports were £30.6 billion.
Revisions from January 2014 onwards result from taking on various updated survey estimates and in some cases replacing forecasts.
The UK Trade record information for April 2014 can be accessed at the RTD UK Trade Records Sheet, April 2014 (45 Kb Excel sheet) .
Article on Illegal Activities
On 29 May 2014 ONS published and article 'Inclusion of illegal drugs and prostitution in the UK National Accounts' describing changes that will be implemented from September 2014 on how illegal drugs and prostitution will be treated in the National Accounts to comply with European statistical guidelines. Imported illegal drugs will be included in imports of goods from September 2014.
In this release, periods from January 2013 are open for revision.
As of 1 January 2014, Latvia joined the European Monetary Union (EMU). Therefore the EMU totals in this UK Trade release include Latvia.
Missing Trader Intra-Community (MTIC) Fraud
Users should also be aware that for some data prior to April 2012, the monthly data does not sum precisely to the quarters for the MTIC series due to rounding.
UK Trade designated as National Statistics
The United Kingdom Statistics Authority has designated these statistics as National Statistics, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.
Designation can be broadly interpreted to mean that the statistics:
meet identified user needs;
are well explained and readily accessible;
are produced according to sound methods, and
are managed impartially and objectively in the public interest.
Once statistics have been designated as National Statistics it is a statutory requirement that the Code of Practice shall continue to be observed.
An article outlining the ONS policy on special events is available on the ONS website.
Code of Practice for Official Statistics
National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference. © Crown copyright 2014.
Short Guide to UK Trade
Ever since statistics on exports and imports of goods were first collected in 1697, UK trade has been one of the country’s key economic indicators.
All information included in the monthly UK Trade statistical bulletin is on a Balance of Payments (BoP) basis and is seasonally adjusted unless otherwise specified. The release contains tables showing the total value of trade in goods together with index numbers of volume and price, figures analysed by broad commodity group (values and indices) and according to geographical area (values only). In addition the Trade statistical bulletin also includes early monthly estimates of the value of trade in services.
Data appearing in the UK Trade statistical bulletin are also used as a direct input into the quarterly Balance of Payments and National Accounts.
Interpreting the data
Monthly commodity movements for food, beverages & tobacco, basic materials, fuels other than oil and erratics (ships, aircraft, precious stones, and silver) are only detailed in this statistical bulletin where they are equal to or exceed £200 million (£400 million for three-monthly comparisons).
Monthly country movements are only detailed in this statistical bulletin where they are equal to or exceed £0.1 billion (£0.3 billion for three-monthly comparisons).
In months where quarterly and three-monthly ending percentage changes for index data coincide, there may be small differences between the data for methodological reasons. Quarterly data are the indexed form of an underlying constant price (for volume indices) or consistent quantity (for price indices) series. Three-month ending data are the average of the index data in that period.
VAT Missing Trader Intra Community (MTIC) fraud
Import figures for trade in goods include adjustments to allow for the impact of VAT MTIC fraud.
The adjustments to trade in goods relate only to part of the carousel version of VAT MTIC fraud. This fraud leads to under recording of imports as fraudsters import goods from the EU, which they then sell on before disappearing without paying VAT on that sale. The goods are eventually exported. Such exports are declared and are therefore already reflected in the UK’s trade in goods statistics.
Changes to the pattern of trading associated with MTIC fraud can make it difficult to analyse trade by commodity group and by country as changes in the impact of activity associated with this fraud affect both imports and exports. However, the MTIC trade adjustments are added to the EU import estimates derived from Intrastat returns as it is this part of the trading chain that is not generally recorded. In particular, adjustments affect trade in capital goods and intermediate goods - these categories include mobile phones and computer components, which are still the most widely affected goods.
International convention determines that the treatment of the impact is to adjust imports upwards by the relevant amounts of missing declarations (non-response). However, users may wish to interpret short term movements in imports excluding that part of the fraudulent activity that is not included in the import estimates. For this purpose an analysis of the import figures with the VAT MTIC adjustments excluded is shown in Table 13.
Definitions and explanations
A glossary of terms is published in the UK Balance of Payments - The Pink Book, 2013.
Use of the data
UK Trade is a key economic indicator due to the importance of international trade to the UK economy. It is also a very timely statistic, providing an early indicator of what is happening more generally in the economy.
In addition, it is a major component of two other key economic statistics: UK gross domestic product (GDP) and the UK Balance of Payments. This means that there is a threefold potential for UK Trade statistics to inform the government’s view of the UK economy, as well as the views of others, such as economists, City analysts, academics, the media and international organisations.
Notes on tables
The sum of constituent items in tables does not always agree exactly with the totals shown due to rounding.
.. Not applicable
- Nil or less than half the final digit shown.
Composition of the data
Detailed methodological notes are published in the UK Balance of Payments - The Pink Book, 2013.
Seasonal adjustment aims to remove effects associated with the time of the year or the arrangement of the calendar so that movements within a time series may be more easily interpreted.
It is common for the value of a group of financial transactions to be measured in several time periods. The values measured will include both the change in the volume sold and the effect of the change of prices over that year. Deflation is the process whereby the effect of price change is removed from a set of values.
Chain-linked indices (chained volume measures) which are indexed to form the volume series in this bulletin differ from fixed base indices in that the growth from one year to the next is estimated by weighting the components using the contribution to value of trade in the immediately preceding year (effectively re-basing every year). This series of annually re-weighted annual growths is then ‘chain-linked’ to produce a continuous series.
The implied price deflators derived by comparing current price data to chained volume measures data are not the same as the price indices published in this statistical bulletin because the former are current weighted while the latter are base (2010) weighted.
Changes in trade associated with VAT MTIC fraud mean that comparisons of volume and prices (both including and excluding trade associated with VAT MTIC fraud) should be treated with a great deal of caution.
A paper (384.4 Kb Pdf) , Statistics on Trade in Goods (GSS Methodological Series No. 36) describing the adjustments that need to be applied to conform to IMF definitions for Balance of Payments and the division of responsibility between ONS and HMRC is available on the ONS website.
The Overseas Trade Statistics (OTS) data used as inputs to this statistical bulletin are collected and published by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on an International Merchandise Trade Statistics (IMTS) basis.
Basic quality information
Accuracy: Trade in goods figures for the most recent months are provisional and subject to revision in the light of (a) late trader data, revisions to trade prices and revised estimates of trading associated with VAT MTIC fraud, and (b) revisions to seasonal adjustment factors which are re-estimated every month.
Trade in services estimates have been derived from a number of monthly and quarterly sources. For components where no monthly data are available, estimates have been derived on the basis of recent trends. The results should be used with appropriate caution, as they are therefore likely to be less reliable than those for trade in goods.
Reliability: Revisions to data provide one indication of the reliability of key indicators. The table below shows summary information on the size and direction of the revisions which have been made to the data covering a five-year period. A statistical test has been applied to the average revision to find out if it is statistically significantly different from zero. An asterisk (*) shows that the test is significant. An article explaining the past revisions performance for UK Trade statistics and what is being done to improve the first published estimates was published on 9 May 2005 on the ONS website.
|Revisions between first publication and estimates twelve months later|
|Value in latest period||Average over the last 5 years (mean revision)||Average over the last 5 years without regard to sign (average absolute revision)|
|Total trade exports (IKBH)||41,363||789||1,026|
|Total trade imports (IKBI)||43,202||524*||687|
|Total trade balance (IKBJ)||-1,839||272||581|
The table covers estimates of UK trade first published from June 2009 (for April 2009) to May 2013 (for March 2013). Revision spreadsheets giving these estimates and the calculations behind the averages in the table are available on the ONS website.
An article (2.33 Mb Pdf) analysing past revisions to quarterly balance of payments current account data was published in the May 2007 edition of Economic & Labour Market Review. It is available on the ONS website.
More information about revisions material in this statistical bulletin can be found on the ONS website.
The coverage of EMU countries was extended to cover Cyprus and Malta from July 2008, Slovakia from January 2009, Estonia from January 2011 and Latvia from January 2014. Some EU and non-EU breakdowns of commodity data for chained volume measures which are available on request may be less reliable than the current price data. Please consult Katherine Kent on 01633 455829 if you are considering using them.
Data have been combined for the United States & Puerto Rico and for Dubai, Abu Dhabi & Sharjah (the United Arab Emirates) from January 2009 onwards. Estimates are separately available for the United States and Dubai up to the end of 2008 on request.
Summary quality report
Summary Quality Report (91.3 Kb Pdf)
for this statistical bulletin and associated data can be found on the ONS website.
National Accounts revisions policy
National Accounts revision policy (27.8 Kb Pdf)
can be found on the ONS website.
Revisions Table 17R shows revisions to the main aggregates since the last Trade Statistical Bulletin of 9 May 2014. The revisions to trade in goods from January 2013 reflect revised data from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and other data suppliers, revised estimates of trading associated with VAT MTIC fraud, later survey data on trade prices and a re-assessment of seasonal factors.
The revisions to trade in services from January 2014 are due to updated survey information from the ONS International Trade survey, with revisions also from the Bank of England and other survey and administrative sources and a reassessment of seasonal factors.
A list of the organisations given pre-publication access to the contents of this bulletin can be found on the ONS website.
The complete run of data in the tables of this statistical bulletin are also available to view and download in other electronic formats free of charge using the ONS Time Series Data website service. Users can download the complete statistical bulletin in a choice of zipped formats, or view and download their own selections of individual series.
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Next publication: 10 July 2014
Issued by: Office for National Statistics, Government Buildings, Cardiff Road, Newport, NP10 8XG
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Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: firstname.lastname@example.org
These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.
|Katherine Kent||+44 (0)1633 455829||UK Trade/Trade and Transfersemail@example.com|