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10th November 2023

UK trade falls in September as global economy falters

The ONS has released the UK trade data for September.

Paul Butterworth, CEO at Chambers Wales South East, South West and Mid, said:

“It is disappointing to see the latest trade figures released by the ONS as the value of both goods imports and exports decreased in September for trade with both EU and non-EU countries.

“Businesses who trade internationally tend to be more successful, flexible and resistant to economic shocks. 58% of businesses in Wales see new markets as an opportunity to recover and grow according to our Quarterly Economic Survey for Q3, with 42% of businesses pinpointing access to new international markets specifically as an opportunity. It is therefore essential that they are provided with the tools and access to markets they need to thrive on the world stage.

“The Trade Bill recently announced in the King’s Speech, proposing to formalise the UK’s membership of the CPTPP, could help businesses to build connections and trade with new markets outside of the EU with lower tariffs for both imports and exports.”

William Bain, BCC Head of Trade Policy, said:

“Economic woes at home and abroad are weighing heavily upon UK trade. September saw substantial falls in both imports and exports. Total goods trade values across Q3 this year also showed a significant drop on the previous quarter.

“Some of this can be put down to volatility in European and global markets in trade in fuels, but there was also a decline in other goods categories.

“The bright spot in the figures was growth in services trade, it continues to lead the way for the UK.  Export volumes were 11% above pre-pandemic levels. They continued to grow in Q3 this year – contributing to a narrowing of the UK trade deficit, but the momentum from 2022 has slowed significantly.

“The BCC’s 2023 Trade Manifesto sets out a range of proposals to help shift the dial on trade. These include the creation of a new Exports Council and upscaling the UK’s green and digital trade performance.

“As International Trade Week draws to a close, policymakers would do well to study our findings to help UK traders – coping with difficult domestic and global economic conditions.”

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