THE UK’s global goods trade deficit narrowed in September, official figures show, but economists noted a fall in exports and a rise in imports in volume terms during the third quarter would have been a drag on economic growth.

Figures published yesterday by the Office for National Statistics show the UK’s global goods trade deficit narrowed from £12.35 billion in August to £11.25bn in September. This was a better outturn than the £12.8bn deficit forecast for September by economists. Taking goods and services together, the UK’s trade deficit narrowed from £3.5bn in August to £2.8bn in September.

However, noting the UK’s overall trade deficit had widened to £9.5bn in the third quarter from £6.5bn in the preceding three months, Ruth Gregory at Capital Economics said: “The latest trade figures made for pretty disappointing reading.”

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Comparing the third quarter with the previous three months, goods export volumes fell 1.8 per cent. Goods import volumes were up by 1.9 per cent.

Ms Gregory said: “This suggests that the second estimate of Q3 GDP published later this month – which will reveal the expenditure breakdown of Q3 growth – is likely to show that net trade subtracted 0.5 [percentage points] or so from growth in Q3.”

But she was optimistic “net trade will provide more support to growth in the quarters ahead”.