Reacting to the latest ONS trade data for July, William Bain, Head of Trade Policy at the BCC, said:
“Removing the effects of inflation, goods export volumes grew at a decent pace in July, with a 4.4% month on month increases in sales to the EU.
“But a key concern is the continued slowdown in momentum in UK services exports growth – which accounts for just under half of our overseas trade.
“The BCC is recommending that an Exports Council is established by the UK Government to use ONS and other trade data to evaluate, review, and take action to improve UK export performance and strategy.
“As the World Trade Organisation’s World Trade Report this week warned of the global economic consequences of moving away from open, free trade, we must redouble our efforts to open up markets for UK goods and services.”
The data for July shows a 2.1% increase in UK goods export chained volumes (the measure which removes the effects of inflation) on the previous month, and a 0.4% rise in goods import chained values compared with June.
Exports to the EU rose on both the current values and chained volumes measures (by 4.4%) with increases in fuels and machinery sales (including power generators). Exports to the rest of the world experienced downward pressures from fuels, machinery and transport equipment.
Estimated UK services export performance remained at the same levels as in June – on both the chained volumes and current values measures. On services imports the picture was mostly static on both measures. On the chained volumes measure, UK services exports are still 2.9% lower now than in February 2020 at the time lockdowns were applied in many global regions.
Overall, there was a slight increase in the deficit for trade in goods and services by £1.2bn to £18.8bn in the three months to the end of July 2023.