(June 6): Britain’s trade deficit widened in April as exports to countries outside the European Union declined.

The figures published today showed a gap of 8.92 billion pounds compared with 8.29 billion pounds in March as exports fell 1.5 percent and imports rose 0.8 percent. The data takes into account 700 million pounds of oil exports omitted from the trade release. The statistics office said it will address the error officially in next month’s data. It said it was notified of the omission by the government tax and customs agency too late to rectify the numbers for today.

Based on the adjusted data, the trade deficit on goods was the widest since January. Exports to the EU rose 1.3 percent in April from March, while shipments to non-EU countries dropped 4.3 percent.

The headline figure published today showed a trade deficit of 9.62 billion pounds, with total exports plunging 4.4 percent. Economists had forecast a trade gap of 8.65 billion pounds, based on the median of 18 estimates.

The trade deficit including a 7.1 billion-pound surplus on services widened to 1.84 billion pounds in April from 1.1 billion pounds in March. That’s based on the adjusted data.

In the past three months, the total deficit narrowed to about 4.5 billion pounds from 5.4 billion pounds in the quarter through January.

In its release today, the ONS said HMRC informed it “that they have identified omissions in their most recent data delivery,” which resulted in exports of oil being underestimated. “Unfortunately, this was identified too late to incorporate into this publication,” the statistics office said.

Business & Markets

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