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May 10, 2013 10:40 am
Britain’s trade deficit narrowed in March as exports to countries outside the EU rose.
The Office for National Statistics said on Friday that the trade deficit, which measures the difference between imports and exports, narrowed to £3.1bn from £3.4bn in February.
The improvement was linked to stronger exports to non-EU countries.
While the deficit for manufactured goods traded with EU countries widened by £600m to £5.6bn, outside the common market it narrowed by £700m to £3.5bn.
Chris Williamson, economist at Markit, said the data “add to signs that the manufacturing sector is finding its feet again”.
“Export growth has been boosted by the weakness of sterling,” he said.
According to the ONS data, the UK’s trade deficit was £9bn in the first quarter, about £600m less than in the final three months of 2012.
The widening of the deficit with the EU in recent months was mainly because of trade with Germany, Europe’s largest economy, and the Netherlands. More than half Britain’s trade is with the EU. The UK’s trade surplus with the US has improved by £1.1bn since the start of the year.
The pound has depreciated by 4 per cent against the dollar since the beginning of 2013, though it has also fallen by a similar amount against the euro.
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