Commenting on the trade statistics for November 2016, published today by the Office for National Statistics, Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

“The widening of the UK’s trade deficit in November is disappointing, and signifies a considerably weaker trading position than the average for the year. While exports increased slightly in the month, this was more than offset by a record rise in imports, confirming that there is little evidence that the fall in the value of the pound is boosting the UK’s overall trade balance.

“Trade is likely to make a greater contribution to UK GDP in the next few years, as the persistent currency weakness feeds through into improved price competitiveness for some exporters, and diminishes demand for imports. However, the extent of any improvement is likely to be curbed by subdued global trade growth, and the higher cost of imported raw materials.

“In order to achieve a meaningful improvement in our export performance, the government must do more to provide businesses with direct support to access new markets.”