Imports of goods and services rose by 2.7 percent to £52.7 billion in May 2017 from £51.4 billion in the previous month, boosted by higher purchases of goods, namely mechanical machinery, material manufactures (non-ferrous metals and silver) and oil; while imports of services fell. Among trading partners, imports of goods from non-EU countries jumped by 5.3 percent, due to higher purchases from Norway (21.6 percent), Switzerland (29.3 percent), Japan (8.6 percent), Hong Kong (15.7 percent) and Canada (61.2 percent). Also, imports of goods from the EU increased by 2.8 percent, mainly from Germany (5 percent), the Netherlands (6.4 percent) and Spain (8.1 percent).
Exports of goods and services rose by 0.9 percent to £49.7 billion from £49.2 billion in April, due to an increase of 0.9 percent in sales of goods and a 0.8 percent gain in exports of services. Sales of goods to the EU advanced by 3.8 percent, mainly to France (9.7 percent) and Ireland (6 percent). By contrast, exports of goods to non-EU countries fell by 1.8 percent, dragged by lower sales to China (-6.2 percent), Switzerland (-27.9 percent) and Hong Kong (-3.4 percent).
On the price front, goods export and import prices decreased by 1 percent and 0.8 percent respectively, coinciding with the value of sterling increasing by 0.5 percent in May 2017 compared with the April average. Despite the recent increase, sterling remains 9.1 percent lower when compared with May 2016 – with goods export prices 8.2 percent and import prices 8 percent higher than May 2016.