UK: Lowest trade deficit

5 min

On an annual basis, the February trade deficit stood at its lowest level since March 2012 (-GBP27.5bn) thanks to the strengthening of the services surplus (+GBP108.3bn). The goods deficit stood at –GBP135.8bn, broadly stable compared to 2017. The goods trade deficit with the EU stood at a high–GBP108.8bn on an annual basis from –GBP108.1bn at end-2017. Going forward, new export orders suggest a slight acceleration in external demand in the coming months (index at 55.2 in Q1 2017 in the manufacturing sector vs 54.7 on average in 2017). We expect global trade growth (+4.4% in volume terms) to continue to support UK exports (+3.1% expected real growth from +5.7% in 2017). Import growth is expected to remain broadly stable (+3.1% expected real growth from +3.2% in 2017) as the slowdown in domestic demand excluding stocks should remain smooth (+1.6% from +2.0% in 2017) while the sterling should remain broadly stable in real effective exchange rate terms (+0.8% YTD in March 2018).