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Stark fall in the UK trade deficit

ONS data reveals increase in exports

The UK's trade deficit fell to £2.7bn in May, from £4.1bn in April.

This fall came through a reduction in the deficit in goods. The seasonally adjusted trade in goods deficit was just £8.4bn in May, having hit £9.7bn in April.April had seen a large increase in the trade deficit, with the deficit resting at £3bn in March. Today's announcement shows that this dip has been recovered from and March's figures surpassed.

The volume of exports in May increased by 6.6 per cent on April's figures, whilst imports increased by only 1 per cent. Services remained in an unchanged surplus of £5.6bn. These measure excludes oil and erratic items.  

This reduction in the trade deficit is accompanied by positive news on growth. Manufacturing in May was up by 1.2 per cent on April despite the expectation of no growth; food and drink grew by 2.2 per cent in May compared against figures for April and the transport equipment sector even saw an 8.8 per cent increase on output from May 2011.

Output figures are still significantly below last year's reports, with manufacturing 1.7 per cent lower than May 2011, pharmaceutical products and preparations down 13.2 per cent and food and drink down 3.9 per cent.

Speculation surrounds these figures for May, with concerns that trade will have fallen away again in June as the Euro-crisis intensified, weather worsened and the Jubilee celebrations ended.

Helen Robb reads PPE at Oxford University where she is deputy editor of ISIS magazine.