UK continues to shine in its services exports, while goods trade disappoints

Commenting on the latest ONS trade data for Q1 2024, Emily Fry, Senior Economist at the Resolution Foundation, said:

“While the UK’s improving trade balance was a major contributor to strong economic growth in early 2024, the trade data is less rosy than it appears.

“The improving trade balance was driven by a sharp fall in imports, with good exports also falling and only services exports growing by 1 per cent, driven by travel and transport.

“This mixed picture continues a wider pattern in which the UK has under-performed on goods trade, which is down 19 per cent on its pre-Brexit trend, and relative to other advanced economies. In contrast, the UK has maintained its strong international position on services trade, and increased services trade relative to its pre-Brexit trend by 3.5 per cent, despite fears of ‘slowbalisation’.

“It’s high time politicians and policy makers acknowledged where the UK’s trade strengths really lie, and put high-value services at the heart of a new economic strategy.”

NB – Figures are in chained volume measures, excluding precious metals.