The UK's goods trade deficit narrowed to £9.4 billion in November, compared with £9.7 billion in October, official figures showed.
Export volumes to the EU rose 5.8 per cent on the month as sales were boosted by factors including chemical products exported to Germany.
But imports from the EU are also at a record high and less-volatile quarterly figures show EU exports down more than 5 per cent in the three months to November.
The UK’s total trade deficit of £3.2 billion was also far higher than expected after revisions to previous estimates, while a recovery at home is likely to see import demand soar, economists said.
Simon Wells, chief UK economist at HSBC, said: "Given that the recovery in domestic demand is likely to continue through 2014, and in particular that surveys suggest investment may bounce back, this deficit is worrying. Investment is import-intensive and so strong import growth is likely."