BCC comments on trade figures

12th June 2018

Commenting on the trade statistics and key short-term indicators for April 2018, published today by the ONS, Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: -While there was a slight monthly pick-up in construction output, the longer-term trends confirm continued weakness, and together with the widening in the UK's trade deficit and weakening industrial output, point to a bleak start to the second quarter.

While we still expect that UK GDP growth will pick-up in Q2, as economic activity rebounds from the bad weather in Q1, growth is likely to remain under pressure in the medium term. -The deterioration in the UK's trade position in April is a concern and means that the UK's trade deficit remains significantly higher than the historical average. This deterioration largely reflects a marked decline in exports in the month. -It is possible that the UK is now moving past the recent sweet spot for exporters, with growth in key markets moderating and the impact of the post-EU referendum slump in sterling, which has helped some exporters, subsiding. The possibility of an escalating trade war has added to the downside risks for exporters. -More must be done to support UK exporters by addressing longstanding issues, from the lack of practical support for exporters to chronic skills shortages.

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