UK Trade Deficit Narrows in May as Ship Imports Fall, April Gap Revised Up

Britain’s trade in goods deficit narrowed to its lowest level in nearly two years in May, pushed down by a fall in imports including ships, but April’s deficit was revised higher.

The Office for National Statistics also said construction output suffered its biggest monthly fall in more than a year in May, underscoring why the government is preparing to announce measures to boost home-building.

The ONS said on Friday the goods trade deficit shrank to 8.000 billion pounds, much smaller than a median forecast for a shortfall of 9.700 billion pounds in a Reuters poll of economists and its lowest level since June 2013.

But April’s deficit was revised higher to show a gap of 9.837 billion pounds compared with an original estimate of 8.561 billion pounds.

An ONS official said the revision was caused by imports that were higher than previously thought. It was the second month in a row that the import figure for a previous month was revised higher because of changes in figures from Britain’s customs department, she said.

Goods exports rose 0.1 percent in volume terms from April while imports plunged 5.5 percent, pushed down by lower imports of ships amd material manufactures.

Including Britain’s surplus in trade in services, the overall trade deficit shrank to 393 million pounds in May, also the lowest level since June 2013.


Craig Erlam
Based in London, England, Craig Erlam joined OANDA in 2015 as a Market Analyst. With more than five years' experience as a financial market analyst and trader, he focuses on both fundamental and technical analysis while conducting macroeconomic commentary. He has been published by The Financial Times, Reuters, the BBC and The Telegraph, and he also appears regularly as a guest commentator on Bloomberg TV, CNBC, FOX Business and BNN. Craig holds a full membership to the Society of Technical Analysts and he is recognized as a Certified Financial Technician by the International Federation of Technical Analysts.