|Balance of trade in goods||Balance of trade in services||Total trade balance|
The deficit of trade in goods and services for August 2013 was £3.3 billion compared with a deficit of £3.4 billion in the previous month.
The deficit on trade in goods was £9.6 billion in August 2013. The trade position reflects exports minus imports. Exports of goods increased by 1.1% on the month to £25.1 billion for August 2013. Imports for the same period fell 0.1% to £34.7 billion.
Exports of erratics which are defined as ships, aircraft, precious stones and silver increased by 10.0% in August 2013. Trade in oil can also be volatile, and this month imports of oil increased by 3.2%. Exports of goods excluding oil and erratics increased by 0.6% to £20.3 billion and imports fell by 0.6% to £28.6 billion.
In August 2013, exports of goods to the European Union (EU) decreased by £0.4 billion to £12.8 billion. Imports from the EU decreased by £0.3 billion to £18.0 billion. As of 1 July 2013, Croatia joined the EU. In August 2013, exports of goods to countries outside of the EU increased by £0.7 billion to £12.3 billion. Imports increased by £0.2 billion to £16.7 billion.
Trade statistics for any one month can be erratic. For that reason, it is recommended to compare the latest three months against the preceeding three months and the same three months of 2012.
The deficit on trade in goods increased by £1.4 billion to £27.7 billion in the three months to August 2013. Exports of goods in the three months to August 2013 decreased by 1.2% to £76.7 billion but increased by 2.4% compared with the same three months in the previous year. Imports of goods increased by 0.5% in the three months to August 2013 to £104.5 billion, a record high.
By commodity, the decrease in exports in the three months to August 2013 were mainly in fuels and basic materials.
Exports to countries within the EU increased by 0.7% to £38.8 billion in the three months to August 2013, whereas exports to countries outside the EU fell by 3.0% to £38.0 billion in the same period. Imports from the EU reached a record high of £54.6 billion in the three months to August 2013. Imports from countries outside the EU decreased by 0.4% in the three months to August 2013. Imports from China increased by 6.3% in the latest three months and by 3.3% on the same three months in 2012.
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-scale annual inquiries. That means that the figures for the latest months are inevitably uncertain.
Imports of services for quarter two 2013 have been revised upwards by £1.5 billion to £29.7 billion, mainly within other business services and communication services. Exports of services had some smaller revisions, meaning the overall trade in services surplas was revised down by £1.0 billion to £19.8 billion for quarter two 2013.
The value of trade in goods has grown only gently since the beginning of 2007. In that year, and into 2008, there was steady growth as the UK economy and those of our major trading partners expanded. That expansion came to a sharp end during 2008 and, as these economies turned downwards, so did the levels of trade. Growth was not resumed until summer 2009. It was steady for the two years after that, but with the continuing difficulties in many economies in moving out of recession, the value of both exports and imports has remained flat since mid-2011.
In 2012, the deficit on trade in goods increased by £8.6 billion to £108.7 billion (annually). The level of exports increased to a record £300.5 billion in 2012, up 0.7% from £298.4 billion in 2011. However, the rise in exports was accompanied by an increase in imports to a record £409.2 billion in 2012, up 2.7% from £398.5 billion in 2011. Despite these record levels of exports and imports, annual growth has slowed considerably since 2010 and 2011 when growth was seen to accelerate as part of the global recovery from the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009.
In August 2013, the UK’s deficit on trade in goods was £9.6 billion, £0.3 billion lower than in July.
Total exports increased by £0.3 billion (1.1%) to £25.1 billion and total imports decreased by less than £0.1 billion (0.1%) to £34.7 billion. At the commodity level:
|Exports (£m)||Imports (£m)|
|Oil (see section on 'trade in oil')||+4||+138|
|Consumer goods other than cars||-199||+118|
|Semi-manufactured goods other than chemicals||-122||-25|
|Fuels other than oil||:||-253|
In the three months ending August 2013, the deficit on trade in goods was £27.7 billion, compared with a deficit of £26.4 billion in the preceding three months.
Total exports decreased by £0.9 billion (1.2%) to £76.7 billion and total imports increased by £0.5 billion (0.5%) to £104.4 billion. At the commodity level:
|Exports (£m)||Imports (£m)|
|Oil (see section on 'trade in oil')||-1,059||-526|
|Consumer goods other than cars||+174||+371|
|Semi-manufactured goods other than chemicals||-258||-444|
|Fuels other than oil||:||-925|
In August 2013, the deficit on trade in goods with EU countries increased by £0.1 billion to £5.3 billion.
Exports to the EU decreased by £0.4 billion (3.0%) to £12.8 billion and imports from the EU decreased by £0.3 billion (1.5%) to £18.0 billion. At the commodity level:
|Exports (£m)||Imports (£m)|
|Oil (see section on 'trade in oil')||-89||+170|
|Consumer goods other than cars||-109||-68|
|Semi-manufactured goods other than chemicals||-30||-71|
In the three months ending August 2013, the deficit on trade in goods with EU countries increased by £0.4 billion to £15.8 billion, compared with the previous three months.
Exports to the EU increased by £0.3 billion (0.7%) to £38.8 billion and imports from the EU increased by £0.7 billion (1.3%) to £54.6 billion, a record high. At the commodity level:
|Exports (£m)||Imports (£m)|
|Oil (see section 'trade in oil')||-474||-355|
|Consumer goods other than cars||+77||+64|
|Semi-manufactured goods other than chemicals||+53||-30|
|Fuels other than oil||:||-513|
In August 2013, the deficit on trade in goods with non-EU countries decreased by £0.4 billion to £4.4 billion.
Exports to non-EU countries increased by £0.7 billion (5.8%) to £12.3 billion and imports from non-EU countries increased by £0.2 billion (1.5%) to £16.7 billion. At the commodity level:
|Exports (£m)||Imports (£m)|
|Oil (see section on 'trade in oil')||+93||-32|
|Consumer goods other than cars||-90||+186|
|Semi-manufactured goods other than chemicals||-92||+46|
|Fuels other than oil||:||-244|
In the three months ending August 2013, the deficit on trade in goods with non-EU countries increased by £1.0 billion to £11.9 billion, compared with the previous three months.
Exports to non-EU countries decreased by £1.2 billion (3.0%) to £38.0 billion and imports from non-EU countries decreased by £0.2 billion (0.4%) to £49.9 billion. At the commodity level:
|Exports (£m)||Imports (£m)|
|Oil (see section on 'trade in oil')||-585||-171|
|Consumer goods other than cars||+97||+307|
|Semi-manufactured goods other than chemicals||-311||-414|
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 Belgium and Luxembourg and to the Netherlands both decreased by £0.2 billion. Exports to Spain decreased by £0.1 billion. Among non-EU countries, exports to the USA increased by £0.3 billion. Exports to Hong Kong and Turkey both increased by £0.1 billion. Exports to India decreased by £0.2 billion.
Within EU countries, imports of goods from Denmark increased by £0.2 billion and imports from Germany decreased by £0.2 billion. Among non-EU countries, imports from both Nigeria and Saudi Arabia increased by £0.2 billion, whereas imports from China, South Africa and Switzerland all increased by £0.1 billion. Imports from Norway decreased by £0.2 billion.
|Exports (£m)||Imports (£m)|
|August 2013||1-month||August 2013||1-month|
Note: Three-monthly country movements are only detailed in this section where they are equal to or exceed £0.3 billion.
Within EU counties, there were no export movements exceeding £0.3 billion for the three months ending August 2013. Among non-EU countries, exports to the USA decreased by £0.5 billion and exports to India decreased by £0.4 billion.
Within EU countries, imports of goods from Germany increased by £0.9 billion and imports from the Netherlands decreased by £0.5 billion. Among non-EU countries, imports from China increased by £0.5 billion and imports from the USA increased by £0.4 billion. Imports from Israel decreased by £0.4 billion and imports from Russia decreased by £0.3 billion.
|Exports (£m)||Imports (£m)|
|August 2013||3-Monthly Change||August 2013||3-Monthly Change|
Between July and August 2013, the total volume of exports increased by 1.3% and the total volume of imports decreased by 0.3%. At the commodity level:
|% change||% change|
|Food, beverages and tobacco||0.0||-1.9|
|Semi-manufactured goods; of which||+1.0||0.0|
|Semi-manufactured goods other than chemicals||+1.9||+3.1|
|Finished manufactured goods; of which||+1.8||+0.9|
|Consumer goods other than cars||-8.7||+2.9|
In the three months ending August 2013, the volume of exports increased by 0.3% and the volume of imports increased by 1.8%, compared with the previous three months. At the commodity level:
|% change||% change|
|Food, beverages and tobacco||+0.3||+1.0|
|Semi-manufactured goods; of which||-2.3||+1.0|
|Semi-manufactured goods other than chemicals||-0.3||+5.5|
|Finished manufactured goods; of which||+1.7||+3.7|
|Consumer goods other than cars||+2.0||+2.3|
In August 2013, compared with July 2013, export prices decreased by 0.5% and import prices decreased by 0.6%. Excluding the oil price effect, export prices decreased by 0.7% and import prices decreased by 0.8%.
In the three months ending August 2013, export prices decreased by 0.7% and import prices decreased by 1.1%. Excluding the oil price effect, export prices decreased by 0.8% and import prices decreased by 1.2%.
In August 2013, the balance on trade in oil was in deficit by £1.4 billion, compared with a deficit of £1.3 billion in July. Oil exports were unchanged at £3.0 billion and oil imports increased by £0.1 billion to £4.4 billion.
In the three months ending August 2013, the balance on trade in oil was in deficit by £3.6 billion, compared with a deficit of £3.0 billion in the three months ending May 2013. Oil exports decreased by £1.1 billion to £9.1 billion and oil imports decreased by £0.5 billion to £12.7 billion.
In August 2013, the UK's estimated surplus on trade in services was £6.3 billion.
Exports in August 2013 were estimated to have been £16.4 billion and imports £10.1 billion.
In the three months ending August 2013, the estimated surplus on trade in services was £19.4 billion.
Total exports were £49.4 billion and total imports were £30.0 billion.
The UK Trade record information for August 2013 can be accessed at the ONS Website (41 Kb Excel sheet) .
The geographical data that was withdrawn in the July 2013 UK Trade release has been reinstated in this publication. ONS apologises for any inconvenience that may have been caused.
Croatia became a member of the European Union on 1st July 2013. As a result, the EU specific aggregates included within this release now include trade with Croatia and subsequently, trade with Croatia has been removed from any non-EU aggregates.
In this release, periods from July 2013 are open for revision.
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.
The Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games made 2012 an unusual and difficult year for policymakers and anybody interested in understanding the behaviour of the UK economy. ONS designated both events as 'special events' under the ONS Special Events policy as they had a potentially significant effect on many key economic statistics. An article published by ONS on 17 May 2013 took a retrospective look at each event and considered the impact on a range of published economic indicators, including GDP.
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 2013.
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, 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 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 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 (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. 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).
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)||41,482||823||1,060|
|Total trade imports (IKBI)||44,802||326||636|
|Total trade balance (IKBJ)||-3,320||503||670|
The table covers estimates of UK trade first published from October 2008 (for August 2008) to September 2012 (for July 2012). Revisions spreadsheets giving these estimates and the calculations behind the averages in the table is 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, and Estonia from January 2011. 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 until 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 (43.3 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 6 September 2013. The revisions to trade in goods from January 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.
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 give pre-publication access to the contents of this bulletin.
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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Next publication: 8 November 2013
Issued by: Office for National Statistics, Government Buildings, Cardiff Road, Newport NP10 8XG
Tel 0845 601 3034
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: email@example.com
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 Transfersfirstname.lastname@example.org|