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UK Trade summary, December 2012

Released: 07 February 2013 Download PDF

Figure 1: Balance of UK Trade

Balance of UK Trade, £ billion, Seasonally adjusted

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Overseas trade in goods fluctuated unusually widely from month to month during spring and early summer this year.  They have since settled down.  Even so, figures for any one month provide scant evidence of trends.  It is necessary to add three or more months together for both exports and imports before the trend component of the time series exceeds the random component.  Changes in the balance (exports minus imports) are of course even more variable.  Accordingly, this summary concentrates on looking at 2012 as a whole.

The availability of figures for 2012 as a whole provides an opportunity to look structurally at some of the changes that have happened, particularly to trade in goods.

Over the 10 years 2002-2012, the value of Britain’s exports grew by 60%, an average of 4.8% a year. However, the value of imports rose rather faster, by 74%, or 5.7% per annum.  Some of this difference was due to oil.  Excluding oil, the rate of growth of exports was little changed but imports less oil grew at an average rate of 5.1%, much closer to the rise in exports.

The balance of trade in goods, which had been in deficit (that is, imports exceeded exports) by £47 billion in 2002 was in deficit by £107 billion last year.

The volume of the UK’s trade in goods rose by around 2.0% per annum between 2002 and 2012.  The growth of imports was similar, at 2.3% per annum, whether or not oil imports were included.  However, oil exports fell during the period (the amount of crude oil exported reduced from 79 million tonnes in 2002 to 38 million tonnes in 2012).  The volume of goods exports including oil rose by 2.0% per annum over the period; but excluding oil the increase was 2.2%.


Source: Office for National Statistics

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