U.K. Exports Declined to Lowest Level in Four Years in August

U.K. exports fell to the lowest in four years in August, led by a drop in oil and chemicals.

Overseas sales declined 2.8 percent to 23.2 billion pounds ($37 billion), the least since September 2010, the Office for National Statistics said in London today. The goods-trade gap narrowed as imports slid 5.8 percent, led by a 1.1 billion-pound drop in erratic items including aircraft.

There was also a decline in imports of “non-monetary gold,” or gold that’s held privately rather than by central banks. The ONS couldn’t provide a figure for this category due to confidentiality.

The report showed that there was a services surplus of 7.2 billion pounds in August, leaving a total trade deficit of 1.9 billion pounds.

The data may reinforce calls from U.K. business to the government to do more to help companies boost overseas sales. Britain’s economic growth over the past year has been largely driven by domestic demand, and a revival in exports is needed to ensure the sustainability of the recovery.

“We know we have a trade challenge -- a stubborn trade deficit, and falling global market share,” John Longworth, British Chambers of Commerce director general, said yesterday. “It is the one area of the economy in which we are not succeeding.”

The ONS said the value of both U.K. exports and imports has remained largely unchanged since mid-2011 “with the continuing difficulties in many economies.”

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