ONS statistics show that the total trade balance reaches a surplus

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The UK’s total trade balance rose to a surplus of £ 1.4 billion in the three months to February 2020, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found

The ONS released its UK trade statistics: February 2020. These present information relating to the UK economy, in particular the total value of UK exports and imports of goods and services at current prices, chained volume measurements and implicit deflators.

Total trade (goods and services), excluding non-monetary gold and other precious metals, was revealed to have grown by £ 6.6bn to a surplus of £ 1.4bn sterling in the three months until February 2020.

The ONS acknowledged that this was the first total underlying trade surplus, on a three-month basis, since comparable records began. He attributed this largely to the drop in imports over the same period from £ 10.1bn to £ 170.7bn.

The £ 6.6bn increase in the total trade balance is due to a £ 6.4bn reduction in the merchandise trade deficit to £ 23.2bn as imports fell more than exports. In particular, imports of goods fell by almost £ 10bn (£ 9.2bn) – this covered goods including:

  • Machinery and transport equipment
  • Chemical products
  • Miscellaneous goods

Other key points related to the total trade balance include:

  • A relatively low level of imports in the three months leading up to February (in accordance with the trade organization before the UK left the EU)
  • A widening of the services trade surplus to £ 24.6 billion
  • A £ 2.0bn increase in non-monetary gold exports to £ 7.8bn

According to the ONS: “There is currently a low level of evidence suggesting actual impacts of COVID-19 on UK trade. February 2020 saw slight declines in imports from China, for example, machinery and transport equipment, miscellaneous manufactured goods and manufactured goods. “

EU and non-EU trade

The reduction in the merchandise trade deficit with EU countries and non-EU countries was caused by falling imports more than exports, the ONS said.

Imports of goods from the EU, for example, fell by £ 6.9 billion; exports to EU countries fell by less than £ 0.8 billion. For non-EU countries, imports fell by £ 2.3 billion against a drop in exports of £ 1.9 billion.

The merchandise trade deficit with EU countries narrowed from £ 6.8 billion to £ 17.6 billion, while the deficit with non-EU countries narrowed. reduced from £ 0.1bn to £ 1.1bn.

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“The game has changed”

Recognizing the precarious state of the global economy and the rate at which the coronavirus can change industries around the world, the ONS said “it should be noted that monthly data can be erratic.”

According to Dr Kerstin Braun, President of Stenn Group: “The game has changed completely with the COVID-19 pandemic, making these results largely insignificant.

Braun referred to the UK economy shrinking at a “record pace” and explained that “the immediate goal of the summer will be the recovery and survival of businesses, supported by government measures aimed at mitigate the impact of the closure “.

However, he also added that the recovery is likely to be patchy. Suggesting that “essential sectors such as food and pharmaceuticals are doing better than discretionary goods.

“We can expect consumer spending to be cut for a while and only return as jobs return and uncertainty subsides. Companies engaged in the export of goods and services should expect strong competition and even protectionist measures, as governments do everything in their power to support national economies. “

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