Aircraft send Britain's trade deficit soaring

Britain's deficit in trade with countries outside the EU nearly doubled between March and April, mainly because of the delivery of new aeroplanes to British airlines from the US.

A pounds 200m increase in aircraft imports - equivalent to two jumbo jets - took the headline trade gap to pounds 474m last month from pounds 238m in March. Non- EU imports reached a record level. Import volumes dropped 1.5 per cent in the three months to April, but prices rose 6.6 per cent, partly because the pound's weakness has raised the cost of imports in sterling terms.

Export volumes climbed 2.6 per cent in the same three months. But prices rose too, by 4.7 per cent, showing that British exporters are enjoying better profit margins as a result of the pound's decline.

Jonathan Loynes, an economist at HSBC Markets, said it was a matter of concern that exporters were looking for short-term advantage rather than using their improved competitiveness to boost volumes more. But Kevin Darlington, at Hoare Govett, said: ''Companies don't need the extra market share when exporting is so profitable.''

The underlying trade picture, excluding oil and erratic items such as the aircraft, improved last month. The deficit fell from pounds 375m in March to pounds 303m.

Underlying export volumes were only a fraction higher, while import volumes rose nearly 1 per cent. But export prices jumped 4 per cent last month, compared with a 1 per cent increase for import prices, making for a bigger increase in the value of exports.

Taking the latest three months together, for a clearer impression of the trends, the volume of exports was up in all categories except food, hit by lower shipments of beverages and cereals.

Imports of food rose, led by fruit and vegetables, fish and meat, but other broad categories of imports fell. In particular, imports of consumer goods were down, although imports of capital goods by industry were higher.

Oil produced a surplus for the fourth month running - the first time this has happened since early 1988.

According to the Central Statistical Office, the recent trend in the visible trade gap with non-EU countries is almost flat, although it would look better if not for a large and erratic shortfall in December.

However, Kate Barker, chief economist at the Confederation of British Industry, said: ''Both our surveys and all the anecdotal evidence paint a stronger picture for manufacturing exports than the official figures.''

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manager - (communications, testing, DM)

£32000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manage...

Guru Careers: Finance Account Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Finance Account Manager with...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Direct Marketing Manager - B2C, Financial Services - Slough

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity h...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum