The latest regional trade statistics published by HMRC today have shown encouraging signs for UK trade, with the value of UK exports increasing by 1.2 per cent, whilst imports decreased by 2.2 per cent compared to the same period last year.
Exports to the EU decreased by 6.5 per cent during the last year, whilst of the top five export partners, the USA came out on top with the largest value increase in export trade up 16 per cent (£4.6bn) on last year.
Rob Donaldson, Baker Tilly’s Head of Corporate Finance, said:
‘These statistics present a slightly surprising and encouraging picture on the UK trade position compared to what we might have expected given the considerable headwinds that our balance of trade faces. Sterling’s considerable strength has not prevented export values rising, although this may represent a firmness of pricing of our export trade rather than increasing volumes. More significantly still, the collapse in commodity prices - and oil in particular - has seen a more than 40 per cent drop in this section of our export trade making the increase overall that much more impressive.
Less surprising is the upswing in US exports. It seems clearer by the day that the world economy is increasingly reliant on the developed world, and the US in particular to do the heavy lifting and support growth. Turmoil and change in the Asian markets – specifically in China - has meant a loss of momentum from these markets, and it appears the pendulum has swung once again to the US consumer. The timing of this is fortuitous as they’ve got their credit cards back out.
However European exports have struggled as a result of the still sluggish European economy being battered by the lack of confidence. Add to this the European-wide austerity, and the refusal of creditor countries such as Germany to loosen the purse strings and drive growth, and I think it’s safe to say that we have a long way to go before we start to see any early signs of a pick-up in Europe.'