East of England exports to EU fall 7pc as UK trade deficit widens

PUBLISHED: 18:45 06 June 2014 | UPDATED: 19:01 06 June 2014

The Port of Felixstowe

The Port of Felixstowe


East of England businesses have increased exports outside of Europe by 6pc as trade with EU markets declined.

Exports to EU countries were down 7.1pc to £15.5bn, while exports to rest of the world rose 6.33pc to £11.8bn, according to the latest quarterly figures from HMRC.

But while some markets strengthened, the overall picture for the region’s exports revealed a 1pc decline from £27.9bn to £27.4bn in the 12 months to March this year.

The top five markets for the east were the United States at £1.03bn, Germany at £898m, the Netherlands at £614m, Belgium at £487m and the Irish Republic at £466m, according to the research over the same period.

It comes as weak manufacturing and chemical exports caused the UK Trade deficit with the rest of the world to widen in April.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that the goods and services trade deficit – the difference between the value of goods exported compared to those imported – grew to £2.5bn in April this year compared to £1.1bn the month before.

It meant that overall there was a deficit of £9.6bn on goods, partly offset by a surplus of £7.1bn on services.

But the ONS urged caution over its own statistics after it overlooked £700m worth of oil exports to the EU.

Liz Basing, UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) export chief for the east of England, said it was important that businesses in the east maximised the export opportunities linked to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this year.

She said Commonwealth countries including Cyprus, Nigeria, Singapore, Pakistan and New Zealand were proving lucrative for local traders, with exports to Singapore up by 8.6pc to £244m compared to last year; exports to Pakistan up by a quarter at £42m; exports to Nigeria up by 11.9pc to £276m, while exports to Cyprus rose by 82pc to £83m.

“Trade within the Commonwealth is estimated at £300bn a year and the games will provide further opportunities to boost this trade,” she said.

“The latest statistics show the east continues to grow and develop great business with many of these countries.

“The slight fall in exports shows the impact of a continuing downward trend in exports to many EU markets.

“We need to maximise the opportunities that the Commonwealth Games will bring, which is why UKTI is working closely with Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Government and the Commonwealth Business Council to deliver a business conference in Glasgow. 
“This aims to attract more than 200 business CEOs and political leaders from across the commonwealth, ahead of the opening of the Games, and will provide a platform to look at the issues and opportunities that businesses from across the Commonwealth face in moving forward.”

The Queen’s Baton, which is travelling to Commonwealth countries on the run up to the games, will arrive in Lowestoft on Monday June 9.

• Do you have a business story for the EDP? Contact business writer Ben Woods on 01603 772426.

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