BCC comments on GDP and trade statistics

Commenting on the latest UK GDP and trade statistics, published today by the ONS, Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

“The widening in the UK’s trade deficit is further evidence of deep-rooted imbalances in UK economic growth and suggests that net trade is likely to have been a drag on UK GDP growth in Q1. Slowing global growth, Brexit uncertainty and persistent sterling volatility are combining to make trading conditions for UK exporters tougher.

“The slight slowdown in GDP growth in March in the services sector is a concern, given its dominant share of overall UK economic output. While manufacturing sector output is recovering, this improvement is likely to partly reflect a temporary boost from greater stockpiling ahead of a possible no-deal exit expected last month.

“Avoiding a messy and disorderly exit from the EU must be the prime objective for parliament and government. Our own Quarterly Economic Survey suggests that UK economic conditions could diminish further in the near term, unless firm action is taken. It is vital that a clear way forward is agreed at the European Council meeting, so that businesses can get the answers they need to help them plan for the future – a rolling cliff edge will do little to ease business concerns.”

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