|Balance of trade in goods||Balance of trade in services||Total trade balance|
Note: Month-on-month growth rates can be volatile. To interpret the underlying movements in the data, users are advised to look at a longer time period.
The UK’s deficit on trade in goods and services widened to £4.2 billion in August, up from £1.7 billion in July.
The UK’s surplus on trade in services was estimated at £5.7 billion in August. Exports of services were £15.6 billion and imports of services were £9.9 billion.
The UK’s deficit on trade in goods widened to £9.8 billion in August, up from £7.3 billion in July. Exports of goods fell by £1.0 billion (4.0 per cent), from £25.7 billion in July to £24.6 billion in August. Imports of goods increased by £1.5 billion (4.5 per cent), from £33.0 billion in July to £34.5 billion in August.
The deficit on trade in goods with EU countries widened by £0.5 billion to £4.9 billion in August compared with a deficit of £4.4 billion in July. Exports decreased by less than £0.1 billion (0.5 per cent) to £12.4 billion. Imports increased by £0.4 billion (2.4 per cent) to £17.2 billion.
The deficit on trade in goods with non-EU countries widened by £2.0 billion to £5.0 billion in August compared with a deficit of £2.9 billion in July. Exports decreased by £1.0 billion (7.2 per cent) to £12.3 billion. Imports increased by £1.1 billion (6.8 per cent) to £17.3 billion.
The decrease in total exports of goods reflected lower exports of total manufactures (down £1 billion); specifically exports of semi-manufactures, which fell by £0.5 billion between July and August.
The increase in total imports of goods reflected higher imports of the following commodities:
Fuel (up £1 billion); specifically imports of oil which rose by £0.9 billion.
Total Manufactures (up £0.6 billion); specifically imports of material manufactures which rose by £0.4 billion.
The volume of exports of goods (excluding oil and erratics) between July and August decreased by 3.6 per cent, reflecting a decrease in material manufactures (down 15.5 per cent) and miscellaneous manufactures (down 9.5 per cent).
The volume of imports of goods (excluding oil and erratics) between July and August increased by 0.1 per cent, reflecting an increase in machinery and transport equipment (up 2.5 per cent).
In August, the UK’s deficit on trade in goods was £9.8 billion, £2.5 billion greater than in July.
Total exports fell by £1.0 billion (4.0 per cent) to £24.6 billion and total imports increased by £1.5 billion (4.5 per cent) to £34.5 billion. At the commodity level:
|Exports (£m)||Imports (£m)|
|Oil (see section on trade in oil)||-66||+898|
|Consumer goods other than cars||-266||+17|
|Semi-manufactured goods other than chemicals||-135||+41|
In the three months ending August 2012, the deficit on trade in goods was £27.2 billion, compared with a deficit of £26.6 billion in the three months ending May 2012.
Total exports fell by £2.3 billion (3.1 per cent) to £73.9 billion and total imports fell by £1.7 billion (1.7 per cent) to £101.1 billion. At the commodity level:
|Exports (£m)||Imports (£m)|
|Oil (see section on trade in oil)||-1307||-754|
|Consumer goods other than cars||+135||+507|
|Semi-manufactured goods other than chemicals||-241||-147|
|Precious stones (see background notes - interpreting the data)||-405|
In August, the deficit on trade in goods with EU countries increased by £0.5 billion to £4.9 billion.
Exports to the EU fell by less than £0.1 billion (0.5 per cent) to £12.4 billion and imports from the EU increased by £0.4 billion (2.4 per cent) to £17.2 billion. At the commodity level:
|Exports (£m)||Imports (£m)|
|Oil (see section on trade in oil)||+143||+151|
|Consumer goods other than cars||-36||-35|
|Semi-manufactured goods other than chemicals||-41||0|
In the three months ending August 2012, the deficit on trade in goods with EU countries increased by £0.5 billion to £14.3 billion, compared with a deficit of £13.8 billion in the three months ending May 2012.
Exports to the EU fell by £1.6 billion (4.1 per cent) to £36.4 billion and imports from the EU fell by £1.1 billion (2.0 per cent) to £50.7 billion. At the commodity level:
|Exports (£m)||Imports (£m)|
|Oil (see section 'trade in oil')||-468||-336|
|Consumer goods other than cars||-91||-38|
|Semi-manufactured goods other than chemicals||-183||-270|
In August, the deficit on trade in goods with non-EU countries increased by £2.0 billion to £5.0 billion.
Exports to non-EU countries fell by £1.0 billion (7.2 per cent) to £12.3 billion and imports from non-EU countries increased by £1.1 billion (6.8 per cent) to £17.3 billion. At the commodity level:
|Exports (£m)||Imports (£m)|
|Oil (see section on 'trade in oil')||-209||+747|
|Consumer goods other than cars||-230||+52|
|Semi-manufactured goods other than chemicals||-94||+41|
In the three months ending August 2012, the deficit on trade in goods with non-EU countries was virtually unchanged at £13.0 billion, compared with the three months ending May 2012.
Exports to non-EU countries fell by £0.8 billion (2.0 per cent) to £37.5 billion and imports from non-EU countries fell by £0.7 billion (1.3 per cent) to £50.4 billion. At the commodity level:
|Exports (£m)||Imports (£m)|
|Oil (see section on trade in oil)||-839||-418|
|Consumer goods other than cars||+226||+545|
|Semi-manufactured goods other than chemicals||-58||+123|
|Precious stones (see background notes - Interpreting the data)||-441|
Within EU countries, exports to Germany fell by £0.1 billion. Among non-EU countries, exports to Switzerland fell by £0.3 billion, exports to India, South Africa and South Korea all fell by £0.2 billion and exports to Canada fell by £0.1 billion.
Within EU countries, imports from the Irish Republic and Germany both rose by £0.2 billion. Among non-EU countries, imports from Norway rose by £0.3 billion, imports from Russia rose by £0.1 billion and imports from Singapore fell by £0.1 billion.
Fig 7: Significant Partner Countries, 1 Month Balances
Within EU countries, exports to Germany fell by £0.8 billion and exports to the Netherlands fell by £0.4 billion. Among non-EU countries, exports to Switzerland rose by £0.3 billion and exports to the USA fell by £0.9 billion.
Within EU countries, imports from Denmark fell by £0.4 billion. Among non-EU countries, imports from Switzerland and China rose by £0.4 billion, imports from India rose by £0.3 billion and imports from Norway fell by £1.6 billion.
|Exports (£m)||Imports (£m)|
|August 2012||3 month||August 2012||3 month|
|1 Significant trading partners defined as top 10 export markets & import sources 2011 (see Monthly Review of External Trade table G1).|
Between July and August, the volume of exports fell by 3.6 per cent and the volume of imports rose by 0.1 per cent, compared with July. At the commodity level:
|% change||% change|
|Food, beverages and tobacco||-2.6||-3.8|
|Semi manufactured goods; of which||-4.4||-1.8|
|Semi-manufactured goods other than chemicals||-6.7||+0.9|
|Finished manufactured goods; of which||-3.8||+1.7|
|Consumer goods other than cars||-12.0||+0.9|
In the three months ending August 2012, the volume of exports fell by 1.2 per cent and the volume of imports fell by 0.8 per cent, compared with the three months ending May 2012. At the commodity level:
|% change||% change|
|Food, beverages and tobacco||-0.3||-0.3|
|Semi manufactured goods; of which||-3.3||-1.7|
|Semi-manufactured goods other than chemicals||-3.7||-0.6|
|Finished manufactured goods; of which||-0.3||+0.3|
|Consumer goods other than cars||+2.7||+ 4.0|
Fig 9: Volume of Exports of Goods (Finished Manufactures), June 2012 - August 2012 Compared with March 2012 - May 2012
As ONS previously announced in its statement on 3 July 2012, exports and imports price indices data are not available in this month's UK Trade publication. The statement detailing the omission of these data can be found on the ONS website.
In August, the balance on trade in oil was in deficit by £1.7 billion compared with a deficit of £0.7 billion in July. Oil exports fell by £0.1 billion to £3.2 billion and oil imports rose by £0.9 billion to £4.9 billion.
In the three months ending August 2012, the balance on trade in oil was in deficit by £3.9 billion compared with a deficit of £3.4 billion in the three months ending May 2012. Oil exports fell by £1.3 billion to £9.2 billion and oil imports fell by £0.8 billion to £13.1 billion.
Note: Most components of Trade in Services are collected quarterly and the latest period for which reasonable quality estimates are available is the second quarter of 2012. In order to provide a more complete picture of trade, the latest available data has been extrapolated into August.
In August, the UK’s estimated surplus on trade in services was £5.7 billion.
Exports in August 2012 were estimated to have been £15.6 billion and imports £9.9 billion.
In the three months to August 2012, the estimated surplus on trade in services was £17.5 billion.
Total exports were £47.4 billion and total imports were £30.0 billion.
This release conforms to the standard revisions policy for National Accounts. In this release, periods from July 2012 are open for revision.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) currently publishes a Statistical Bulletin each month giving the latest figures on overseas trade in goods and services and, around three working days later, the Monthly Review of External Trade Statistics (MRETS). A review has shown that MRETS now contains little that is not available with the Bulletin. The remaining gap will be closed in the next three months. This consultation document seeks users’ views on the cessation of this separate publication when that occurs.
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.
Olympic and Paralympics
The Olympics took place from 27 July to 12 August 2012 (with a few events starting on 25 July), and the Paralympics from 29 August to 9 September. For most economic statistics, any direct effects of the Olympics will be mainly seen in the August estimates. A few series (such as on international travel and tourism, employment) may have been affected in July, and these estimates have already been published. Wider effects, for example if the presence of the Olympics has influenced the number of non-Olympics tourist visits, may of course affect any of the summer months.
This commentary is intended to help users to interpret the statistics in the light of events. As explained in ONS’s Special Events policy, it is not possible to make an estimate of the effect of the Olympics and Paralympics on particular series only on the basis of information collected in those series. More details of how certain series are affected are in an Information Note and an article explaining how various elements are reflected in the National Accounts was published in July 2012.
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 2012.
Understanding the data
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. 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 and 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, and 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 Pink Book 2012.
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 – rounding
The sum of constituent items in tables do 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 (Pink Book).
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 (2009) 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, 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 National Statistics 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
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. More details of the data sources, estimation methodology and reliability of the monthly estimates of trade in services were set out in Economic Trends (January 1996 and September 1997).
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 National Statistics 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)||40266||756||1 011|
|Total trade imports (IKBI)||44435||266||642|
|Total trade balance (IKBJ)||-4169||489||618|
The table covers estimates of UK trade first published from October 2006 (for August 2006) to September 2011 (for July 2011). Revisions spreadsheets giving these estimates and the calculations behind the averages in the table is available on the National Statistics website.
An article 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 National Statistics website.
More information about revisions material in this Statistical Bulletin can be found on the National Statistics website.
EU enlargement and country coverage: Two more countries joined the EU from 1 January 2007. These countries were Bulgaria and Romania. In addition, the coverage of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) countries was extended to include Slovenia. In order to enable users to make long-run comparisons, data for the new definition EU and non-EU was produced from January 1998 onwards for value, and from January 1999 onwards for volume and price indices. At the same time data for the old definitions were no longer maintained. There are additional series for country groupings on the old definitions.
The coverage of EMU countries was extended to cover Cyprus and Malta from July 2008, Slovakia from January 2009, and Estonia from January 2011. Some EU and non-EU breakdowns of commodity data for Chained Volume Measures which are available from the Statbase® service may be less reliable than the current price data. Please consult Stephen Curtis on 01633 456626 if you are considering using them.
Data have been combined for the United States and Puerto Rico, and for Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah (the United Arab Emirates) from January 2009 onwards. Estimates are separately available for the United States and Dubai up until the end of 2008 on request.
Summary quality report
A Summary Quality Report for this Statistical Bulletin and associated data can be found on the National Statistics website.
National Accounts revisions policy
National Accounts revision policy can be found on the National Statistics website.
Revisions Table 14R shows revisions to the main aggregates since the last Trade Statistical Bulletin of 11 September 2012. The revisions to trade in goods from July 2012 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.
Revisions to trade in services, from January 2011 onwards, bring the data in-line with the United Kingdom Economic Accounts (2nd Quarter 2012) published on 27 September 2012.
Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available from the Media Relations Office. Also available is a list of the organisations given pre-publication access (52 Kb Pdf) to the contents of this bulletin.
Supplementary commodity data for this Statistical Bulletin (Monthly Review of External Trade Statistics); and quarterly data analysed by industry according to the Classification of Product by Activity 08 (UK Trade in Goods Analysed in Terms of Industries) are also available free of charge as PDF files.
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: Thursday 8 November 2012
Issued by: Office for National Statistics, Government Buildings, Cardiff Road, Newport NP10 8XG.
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|Stephen Curtis||+44 (0)1633 456626||Trade in Transfers / Office for National Statisticsfirstname.lastname@example.org|