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Statistical bulletin: UK Trade, June 2014 This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 08 August 2014 Download PDF

Key Points

  • UK Trade shows the extent of import and export activity and is a key contributor to the overall economic growth in the UK.
  • Seasonally adjusted, the UK's deficit on trade in goods and services was estimated to have been £2.5 billion in June 2014, compared with £2.4 billion in May 2014.
  • In June 2014 there was a deficit of £9.4 billion on goods, partly offset by an estimated surplus of £7.0 billion on services. The trade in goods deficit widened by £0.3 billion compared with May 2014.
  • In June 2014, exports of goods decreased by £0.4 billion to £23.5 billion reflecting falls in oil and manufactured goods. Imports of goods decreased by £0.1 billion to £32.9 billion reflecting falls in imports of oil and aircraft; these falls were offset by increases elsewhere in manufactured goods.
  • The falls in both exports and imports of goods in June 2014 were attributed to a decrease in trade with countries outside of the European Union (EU).
  • In Q2 2014 exports of goods decreased by £0.5 billion to £71.3 billion reflecting a decrease in exports of oil. Imports of goods increased by £0.4 billion to £98.7 billion reflecting increases in imports of ships, cars and medicinal & pharmaceutical products.

Key Figures

Table 1: Balance of UK Trade in Goods and Services, June 2014

          £ billion
    Balance of trade in goods Balance of trade in services Total trade balance
EU Non-EU World
   
2013 Jun -5.4 -2.8 -8.2 7.0 -1.2
2014 Apr -5.0 -3.9 -8.8 6.8 -2.1
May -5.1 -4.1 -9.2 6.8 -2.4
  Jun -5.6 -3.8 -9.4 7.0 -2.5

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Figure 1: Balance of UK Trade

Figure 1: Balance of UK Trade
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Figure 2: Balance of UK Trade in Goods

 Figure 2: Balance of UK Trade in Goods
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Summary

The deficit of trade in goods and services for June 2014 was £2.5 billion, compared with £2.4 billion in the previous month. The deficit on trade in goods was £9.4 billion in June 2014; the trade position reflects exports minus imports.

Exports of goods decreased by 1.6% between May and June 2014 to £23.5 billion, reflecting a £0.2 billion fall in exports of fuels, a £0.2 billion fall in semi manufactured goods and a £0.2 billion fall in exports of finished manufactures. Within fuels, oil exports fell by £0.1 billion and within finished manufactures, aircraft and ships combined fell by £0.2 billion.  Erratics, which include aircraft and ships, accounted for around 60% of the overall fall in exports of goods in June 2014.

Imports of goods for the same period decreased by 0.4% to £32.9 billion, reflecting a £0.4 billion fall in imports of fuels; specifically oil imports which fell £0.3 billion. Imports of manufactured goods as a whole rose by £0.1 billion in June 2014, however, there were significant individual falls within manufactures; imports of aircraft fell by £0.6 billion and imports of medicinal and pharmaceutical products fell by £0.3 billion. These decreases were offset by increases elsewhere, notably imports of cars (which rose by £0.2 billion) and silver (which rose £0.1 billion).

In June 2014, exports of goods to the European Union (EU) remained unchanged at £12.0 billion; a £0.3 billion fall in exports of fuels was partially offset by a similar sized rise in exports of manufactured goods. Imports of goods from the EU increased by £0.5 billion to £17.6 billion, reflecting an increase of £0.2 billion in imports of manufactured goods and a further £0.1 billion rise in imports of fuels (primarily oil).

In June 2014, exports of goods to countries outside of the EU decreased by £0.4 billion to £11.5 billion, reflecting a decrease of £0.5 billion in exports of manufactured goods; finished manufactures (specifically aircraft) and chemical manufactures (specifically medicinal and pharmaceutical products) each accounted for £0.2 billion. Imports from countries outside of the EU decreased by £0.6 billion to £15.3 billion. Imports of fuels (specifically oil) and finished manufactures (specifically aircraft) contributed £0.5 billion and £0.2 billion respectively to the overall decrease.

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 of trade in goods and services for Q2 2014 was £6.9 billion compared with £5.5 billion in Q1 2014 and £4.2 billion in Q2 2013.

The deficit on trade in goods between Q1 2014 and Q2 2014 widened by £0.9 billion to £27.4 billion.  Exports of goods decreased by £0.5 billion to £71.3 billion in Q2 2014, reflecting a decrease in exports of fuels; specifically oil exports which fell by £0.7 billion. Exports of semi-manufactured goods fell by £0.4 billion, within which both chemical manufactures and material manufactures fell by £0.2 billion. Imports of goods increased by £0.4 billion to £98.7 billion in Q2 2014. Imports of manufactured goods rose by £1.0 billion over the quarter, reflecting increases in the import of ships, cars and medicinal & pharmaceutical products. These increases were partially offset by oil imports falling £0.3 billion from the previous quarter.

Exports to EU countries increased 1.5% between Q1 2014 and Q2 2014, whereas exports to countries outside of the EU decreased 2.9% for the same period.  Conversely, imports from EU countries decreased 0.3% whereas imports from countries outside of the EU increased 1.2% between Q1 2014 and Q2 2014. 

Exports to Germany, one of the UK's biggest trading partners, stood at £7.7 billion in Q2 2014, an increase of £0.6 billion compared with Q1 2014.  However, imports from Germany rose £0.6 billion over the same period to £14.3 billion. 

For both EU countries and countries outside of the EU imports fell between Q2 2013 and Q2 2014 but exports have fallen more.  The biggest change is a £4.7 billion (11.9%) decrease in exports to non-EU countries including the USA, India and Canada.  Exports to Russia fell by £0.2 billion on the year.  In terms of commodities, exports of erratics such as silver, precious stones and aircraft to countries outside of the EU fell on the year. 

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. 

The surplus on trade in services for Q2 2014 was estimated at £20.5 billion compared with £21.0 billion in Q1 2014.  Both exports and imports fell over the quarter.

Longer-Term Perspective

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.

Value of UK Trade in Goods

In June 2014, the UK's deficit on trade in goods was £9.4 billion, widening by £0.3 billion from May 2014.

Total exports decreased by £0.4 billion (1.6%) to £23.5 billion and total imports decreased by £0.1 billion (0.4%) to £32.9 billion.  At the commodity level the data are shown in the following table.

Table 2: Change in Key Commodity Value, June 2014 Compared with May 2014

              Exports (£m)   Imports (£m)
Oil (see section on 'trade in oil') -117 -339
Cars +33 +167
Consumer goods other than cars -4 +9
Intermediate goods -65 +218
Capital goods +120 +175
Chemicals -100 -188
Semi-manufactured goods other than chemicals  -77 +249
Aircraft             :   -562

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Monthly commodity movements for Aircraft are only detailed where they equal or exceed £200m.

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In Q2 2014, the deficit on trade in goods was £27.4 billion, widening by £0.9 billion from Q1 2014. 

Total exports decreased by £0.5 billion (0.7%) to £71.3 billion and total imports increased by £0.4 billion (0.4%) to £98.7 billion.  At the commodity level the data are shown in the following table.

Table 3: Change in Key Commodity Value, Q2 2014 Compared with Q1 2014

              Exports (£m)   Imports (£m)
Oil (see section on 'trade in oil') -680 -293
Cars +450 +291
Consumer goods other than cars +42 -248
Intermediate goods -216 -98
Capital goods -153 +112
Chemicals -161 +240
Semi-manufactured goods other than chemicals  -207 +333
Ships             :   +495

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Quarterly commodity movements for Ships are only detailed where they equal or exceed £400m.

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Figure 3: Value of UK Trade in Goods

Figure 3: Value of UK Trade in Goods
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Figure 4: Value of UK Trade in Goods Excluding Oil

Figure 4: Value of UK Trade in Goods Excluding Oil
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Trade in Goods - EU Analysis

In June 2014, the deficit on trade in goods with EU countries widened by £0.5 billion to £5.6 billion.

Exports to the EU remained unchanged at £12.0 billion and imports from the EU increased by £0.5 billion (2.9%) to £17.6 billion.  At the commodity level the data are shown in the following table.

Table 4: Change in Key Commodity Value (EU), June 2014 Compared with May 2014

              Exports (£m)   Imports (£m)
Oil (see section on 'trade in oil') -179 +98
Cars +47 +157
Consumer goods other than cars -4 +50
Intermediate goods +20 +140
Capital goods +95 +165
Chemicals +90 -83
Semi-manufactured goods other than chemicals  +19 +96
Aircraft             :   -254

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Monthly commodity movements for Aircraft are only detailed where they equal or exceed £200m.

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In Q2 2014, the deficit on trade in goods with EU countries was £15.6 billion, narrowing by £0.7 billion from a £16.3 billion deficit in Q1 2014.    

Exports to the EU increased by £0.6 billion (1.5%) to £36.2 billion and imports from the EU decreased by £0.1 billion (0.3%) to £51.8 billion.  At the commodity level the data are shown in the following table.

Table 5: Change in Key Commodity Value (EU), Q2 2014 Compared with Q1 2014

              Exports (£m)   Imports (£m)
Oil (see section 'trade in oil') +280 -376
Cars +85 +274
Consumer goods other than cars +126 -125
Intermediate goods -2 -119
Capital goods +7 +208
Chemicals -73 +344
Semi-manufactured goods other than chemicals      -53   -39

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Figure 5: Balance of Trade in Goods - EU Countries

 Figure 5: Balance of Trade in Goods - EU Countries
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Trade in Goods - Non-EU Analysis

In June 2014, the deficit on trade in goods with non-EU countries narrowed by £0.2 billion to £3.8 billion.

Exports to non-EU countries decreased by £0.4 billion (3.2%) to £11.5 billion and imports from non-EU countries decreased by £0.6 billion (3.9%) to £15.3 billion.  At the commodity level the data are shown in the following table.

Table 6: Change in Key Commodity Value (Non-EU), June 2014 Compared with May 2014

              Exports (£m)   Imports (£m)
Oil (see section on 'trade in oil') +62 -437
Cars -14 +10
Consumer goods other than cars 0 -41
Intermediate goods -85 +78
Capital goods +25 +10
Chemicals -190 -105
Semi-manufactured goods other than chemicals  -96 +153
Aircraft             :   -308

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Monthly commodity movements for Aircraft are only detailed where they equal or exceed £200m.

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In Q2 2014, the deficit on trade in goods with non-EU countries was £11.8 billion, widening by £1.6 billion from a £10.2 billion deficit in Q1 2014.

Exports to non-EU countries decreased by £1.0 billion (2.9%) to £35.1 billion and imports from non-EU countries increased by £0.6 billion (1.2%) to £46.9 billion.  At the commodity level the data are shown in the following table.

Table 7: Change in Key Commodity Value (Non-EU), Q2 2014 Compared with Q1 2014

              Exports (£m)   Imports (£m)
Oil (see section on 'trade in oil') -960 +83
Cars +365 +17
Consumer goods other than cars -84 -123
Intermediate goods -214 +21
Capital goods -160 -96
Chemicals -88 -104
Semi-manufactured goods other than chemicals      -154   +372

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Figure 6: Balance of Trade in Goods - Non-EU Countries

Figure 6: Balance of Trade in Goods - Non-EU Countries
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Trade in Goods - One-Month Geographical Analysis

June 2014 Compared with May 2014

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 the Netherlands increased by £0.1 billion.  Among countries outside of the EU there were no export movements exceeding £0.1 billion.

Within EU countries, imports of goods from the Netherlands and Germany both increased by £0.1 billion.  Among countries outside of the EU imports of goods from Switzerland decreased by £0.2 billion and from the USA decreased by £0.1 billion.

Table 8: Change in Monthly Trade with Significant Partner Countries, June 2014 Compared with May 2014

    Exports (£m)       Imports (£m)
    June 2014 Value 1-month Change       June 2014 Value 1-month Change
1 USA           3,056 -83 1 Germany 4,846 +102
2 Germany 2,527 -6 2 China 3,090 -73
3 Netherlands 1,866 +121 3 Netherlands 2,588 +131
4 Irish Republic 1,503 +11 4 France 2,067 +46
5 France 1,467 -34 5 USA 2,012 -124
6 Belgium/Luxembourg 1,100 +4 6 Norway 1,749 -68
7 China 1,070 -25 7 Belgium/Luxembourg 1,678 +68
8 Spain 700 -46 8 Spain 1,110 +13
9 Italy 685 -20 9 Italy 1,109 -14
10 United Arab Emirates 491 -16 10 Irish Republic 789 -10

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Significant trading partners defined as top 10 export markets & import sources 2013 (see attached table 14).
  2. USA includes Puerto Rico.
  3. United Arab Emirates includes Dubai.

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Figure 7: Significant Partner Countries, One-Month Balances, June 2014

Figure 7: Significant Partner Countries, One-Month Balances, June 2014
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Trade in Goods - Quarterly Geographical Analysis

Quarter 2 2014 Compared with Quarter 1 2014

Note: Quarterly 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 Germany increased by £0.6 billion.  Among countries outside of the EU, exports of goods to the USA decreased by £0.3 billion.

Within EU countries, imports of goods from Germany increased by £0.6 billion and imports of goods from the Irish Republic decreased by £0.6 billion.  Among countries outside of the EU, imports of goods from Norway increased by £0.8 billion.

Table 9: Change in Quarterly Trade with Significant Partner Countries, Q2 2014 Compared with Q1 2014

    Exports (£m)         Imports (£m)
    Q2 2014 Value Quarterly change         Q2 2014 Value Quarterly change
1 USA           9,269 -302 1 Germany 14,296 +629
2 Germany 7,709 +565 2 China 9,471 -23
3 Netherlands 5,462 -119 3 Netherlands 7,562 -179
4 Irish Republic 4,480 -89 4 USA 6,197 -154
5 France 4,362 -284 5 France 6,071 +74
6 Belgium/Luxembourg 3,333 +124 6 Norway 5,277 +773
7 China 3,220 -196 7 Belgium/Luxembourg 4,858 +88
8 Spain 2,224 -46 8 Italy 3,402 -274
9 Italy 2,120 +78 9 Spain 3,329 +175
10 United Arab Emirates 1,508 -47 10 Irish Republic 2,343 -585

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Significant trading partners defined as top 10 export markets and import sources 2013 (see attached table 14).
  2. USA includes Puerto Rico.
  3. United Arab Emirates includes Dubai.

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Figure 8: Significant Partner Countries, Quarterly Balances, Q2 2014

Figure 8: Significant Partner Countries, Quarterly Balances, Q2 2014
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Volume of Total Trade in Goods, Excluding Oil and Erratics

Between June 2014 and May 2014, the total volume of exports decreased by 0.3% and the total volume of imports increased by 1.9%.  At the commodity level the data are shown in the following table.

Table 10: Change in Key Commodity Volume, June 2014 Compared with May 2014

    Exports % change Imports % change
Food, beverages and tobacco +2.8 +4.0
Basic materials +3.6 +3.5
Semi-manufactured goods; of which -4.1 0.0
   Chemicals -4.1 -4.8
Finished manufactured goods; of which 0.0 0.0
   Cars +3.1 +6.2
   Consumer goods other than cars +1.7 0.0
   Intermediate goods -0.9 +4.6
   Capital goods +3.8 +2.7

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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In Q2 2014, the volume of exports increased by 0.3% and the volume of imports increased by 0.8%, when compared with Q1 2014.  At the commodity level the data are shown in the following table.

Table 11: Change in Key Commodity Volume, Q2 2014 Compared with Q1 2014

    Exports % change Imports % change
Food, beverages and tobacco +1.5 +2.7
Basic materials -6.2 -0.3
Semi-manufactured goods; of which -1.0 +3.0
   Chemicals -0.3 +2.6
Finished manufactured goods; of which +1.1 +0.9
   Cars +6.9 +2.6
   Consumer goods other than cars +1.2 -2.2
   Intermediate goods -1.5 -0.6
   Capital goods -1.9 +0.9

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Figure 9: Volume of Exports of Goods (Finished Manufactures), Q2 2014 Compared with Q1 2014

Figure 9: Volume of Exports of Goods (Finished Manufactures), Q2 2014 Compared with Q1 2014
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Figure 10: Volume of Imports of Goods (Finished Manufactures), Q2 2014 Compared with Q1 2014

Figure 10: Volume of Imports of Goods (Finished Manufactures), Q2 2014 Compared with Q1 2014
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Export and Import Prices for Trade in Goods (Not Seasonally Adjusted)

In June 2014, compared with May 2014, export prices decreased by 0.8% and import prices increased by 0.2%.  Excluding the oil price effect, export prices decreased by 1.1% and import prices increased by 0.1%.

In Q2 2014, when compared with Q1 2014, export prices decreased by 0.7% and import prices decreased by 0.9%.  Excluding the oil price effect, export prices decreased by 0.7% and import prices decreased by 0.9%. 

Trade in Oil

In June 2014, the balance on trade in oil was in deficit by £0.8 billion, compared with a deficit of £1.1 billion in May 2014.  Oil exports decreased by £0.1 billion to £2.4 billion and oil imports decreased by £0.3 billion to £3.3 billion.

In Q2 2014, the balance on trade in oil was in deficit by £2.7 billion, compared with a deficit of £2.3 billion in Q1 2014.  Oil exports decreased by £0.7 billion to £7.8 billion and oil imports decreased by £0.3 billion to £10.5 billion.

Figure 11: Balance of Trade in Oil

Figure 11: Balance of Trade in Oil
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Trade in Services

In June 2014, the UK's estimated surplus on trade in services was £7.0 billion.

Exports in June 2014 were estimated to have been £16.8 billion and imports £9.9 billion.

In Q2 2014, the estimated surplus on trade in services was £20.5 billion.

Total exports were £50.4 billion and total imports were £29.9 billion.

Figure 12: Value of UK Trade in Services

Figure 12: Value of UK Trade in Services
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Revisions

There are no revisions to Trade in Services in this release.

Records Sheet

The UK Trade record information for June 2014 can be accessed at the RTD UK Trade Records Sheet, June 2014 (35.5 Kb Excel sheet) .

Background notes

  1. What's New?

    Article on changes to the measurement of trade

    On 10 June 2014, ONS published an article ' Methodological changes to the measurement of Trade due to the introduction of new international standards ' describing changes that will be implemented from September 2014 to how trade will be measured in the National Accounts, in order to comply with European statistical guidelines. 

    Revisions

    In this release, periods from April 2014 are open for revision.

    EMU Enlargement

    As of 1 January 2014, Latvia joined the European Monetary Union (EMU). Therefore the EMU totals in this UK Trade release include Latvia.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Special Events

    An article outlining the ONS policy on special events is available on the ONS website.

  5. 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.

  6. 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

    Rounding:
    The sum of constituent items in tables does not always agree exactly with the totals shown due to rounding.

    Symbols:
    ..    Not applicable
    -     Nil or less than half the final digit shown.

  7. Methods

    Composition of the data

    Detailed methodological notes are published in the UK Balance of Payments - The Pink Book, 2013.

    Seasonal adjustment

    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.

    Deflation

    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.

  8. Quality

    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.

    Table 12: Revisions Analysis, UK Trade, June 2014

    £million
    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) 40,328 788 1025
    Total trade imports (IKBI) 42,787 229 538
    Total trade balance (IKBJ) -2,459 566* 722

    Table source: Office for National Statistics

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    The table covers estimates of UK trade first published from September 2009 (for July 2009) to August 2013 (for May 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.

  9. 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.

  10. Summary quality report

    A Summary Quality Report (91.3 Kb Pdf) for this statistical bulletin and associated data can be found on the ONS website.

  11. National Accounts revisions policy

    National Accounts revision policy (27.8 Kb Pdf) can be found on the ONS website.

  12. Revisions

    Revisions Table 17R shows revisions to the main aggregates since the last Trade Statistical Bulletin of 10 July 2014. The revisions to trade in goods from April 2014 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.

    There are no revisions to trade in services.   

  13. Publication policy

    A list of the organisations given pre-publication access to the contents of this bulletin can be found on the ONS website.

  14. Accessing data

    Supplementary 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.

    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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  18. Next publication:  9 September 2014

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  19. 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: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

    These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

Statistical contacts

Name Phone Department Email
Katherine Kent +44 (0)1633 455829 UK Trade/Trade and Transfers trade.in.goods@ons.gsi.gov.uk
Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication .
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