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British exports remain at record high, but warning of impact of Brexit uncertainty on economy

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-07-11 01:10

LONDON - International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox Tuesday welcomed new figures published in London that shows British exports remain at record high.

Latest trade figures of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show demand for British goods and services is higher than ever with exports at record high of 620 billion pounds ($824 billion) in the year to May 2018.

The ONS data shows exports to the world rose by 30 billion pounds ($40 billion), an increase of 5.2 percent compared to the same time last year.

Trade Secretary Fox said: "There's a lot to be proud of with demand for UK goods and services being higher than ever before. The latest trade figures are further good news as overall exports rose and the trade deficit continued to narrow by 4 billion pounds ($5.2 billion)."

Fox said Britain is seeing a shift with the country continuing to sell more than it buys.

Britain's service sector saw exports up 3.1 percent to a record high of 279 billion pounds ($371), increasing the service surplus to 111 billion pounds ($148 billion). Goods exports also rose strongly by 6.9 percent to 341 billion pounds ($453 billion).

The Department for International Trade (DIT) said on an annual basis, exports continue to grow faster than imports for the tenth consecutive month.

Edwin Morgan, director of Policy at the Institute of Directors (IoD), said: "Whatever happens to the UK over the coming decades, we know that boosting international trade is a vital path towards future prosperity. Increasing exports should be a high priority for the whole of government, spearheaded by DIT.

"There is huge potential in this country to raise our game on trade. Two-thirds of IoD members already export, showing we can create the products and services the world wants, and if we could only slightly increase the proportion of firms overall who trade the gains could be enormous."

Suren Thiru, head of Economics at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: "The uptick in growth masks a number of key concerns. The persistent imbalances in the UK economy remain, so while there was solid growth in the services sector, industrial production and construction sectors are adding little to overall growth. The widening in the UK's trade deficit for the second successive month is also a concern and means that trade is likely to have been a drag on GDP in the second quarter of the year. It's probable that the UK is past peak-trading conditions for exporters, with slowing global growth and the prospect of a trade war weighing on demand for UK goods and services.

Thiru said the current political and Brexit related uncertainty, as well as the failure to deal with longstanding issues such as weak productivity, are likely to weigh on economic activity over the near term."

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