Last reviewed 18 November 2021

The trade in goods deficit, excluding precious metals, widened by £5.7 billion to £39.9 billion in Quarter 3 (Q3) 2021, as imports of goods increased by £2.9 billion (2.5%) while exports decreased by £2.8 billion (3.4%).

This is one of the main findings of the latest trade figures produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Available at www.ons.gov.uk/economy/nationalaccounts/balanceofpayments/bulletins/uktrade/september2021, the bulletin for September 2021 shows that total imports of goods, excluding precious metals, increased by £2.3 billion (5.9%), driven by a £2.2 billion (11.2%) increase in imports from non-EU countries, while imports from the EU rose slightly by £0.1 billion (0.6%).

William Bain, Head of Trade Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), notes that imports from outside the EU were higher than those from the Union for the ninth month in a row.

“This was driven by a 30% increase in non-EU fuel imports in September (predominantly oil and gas from Norway and oil from the US),” he said, “although fuel imports from the EU also rose”.

After the gap between the two closed across the summer months, it has now increased to its widest point of the year (£2.5 billion).

The ONS cautioned: “With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and recession, it is difficult to assess the extent to which this reflects short-term trade disruption or longer-term supply chain adjustments.”

Overall, the data shows a 5.7% increase in goods exports to the EU month-on-month, but EU goods exports in Q3 were still 1.2% lower than in the second quarter this year.