Imports of goods and services to the UK rose 0.7 percent to GBP 55.27 billion in April from GBP 54.86 billion in the previous month. The increase was driven by a 0.8 percent rise in purchases of goods, led by unspecified goods; while imports of fuels, basic materials, food, beverages and tobacco, and manufactured goods fell. Also, there was a 0.5 percent increase in imports of services. Among trading partners, imports of goods from the EU grew 0.4 percent, mainly from Germany (1.8 percent) and the Netherlands (3.4 percent). In addition, purchases from non-EU countries went up 1.3 percent, as imports increased the most from Canada (111.3 percent), the US (18.4 percent) and China (1 percent); while those from Norway dropped 37.2 percent.
Exports dropped sharply by 3.2 percent to GBP 49.99 billion in April from GBP 51.64 billion in the previous month, due to lower sales of goods (-5.9 percent), mainly manufactured goods. Exports of services, however, rose 0.2 percent. Among major trading partners, exports of goods to the EU declined 2.5 percent, as sales decreased mainly to Germany (-6 percent), France (-1.5 percent) and Ireland (-5.7 percent); while those to the Netherlands rose 5.8 percent. Also, sales to non-EU countries slumped 9.3 percent, namely to the US (-21.7 percent), China (-6.8 percent) and Switzerland (-41 percent).
In the three months to April 2018, the trade deficit widened GBP 1.9 billion to GBP 9.7 billion, due mainly to falling exports of both goods and services. Goods exports fell GBP 3.1 billion, due mainly to falls in exports of machinery, pharmaceuticals and aircraft, while services exports also fell GBP 2.5 billion. The UK's trade in goods deficit improved GBP 0.6 billion with countries outside of the EU and worsened GBP 1.2 billion with countries inside the EU.