Britain recorded its worst ever monthly goods trade deficit during November as oil trade slipped into deficit for the fifth month running, according to official figures released on Jan. 11. Britain's trade-in-good deficit stood at 6.0 billion pounds (US$10.5 billion) November from an upwardly revised 5.1 billion in October, the office of National Statistics said.

Overall, Britain's deficit in the trade of goods and services widened to 4.5 billion pounds in November from the 3.4-billion-pound shortfall seen in October. The trade-in-goods deficit with other EU countries widened to 2.9 billion pounds in November from 2.8 billion in the previous month. The non-EU shortfall widened to 3.0 billion pounds in November from 2.3 billion in October. Britain faces the prospect of recording its biggest annual trade-in-goods deficit this year, subject to no major revisions to previous data, the National Statistics office spokeswoman added.

"The overall trade performance was dragged down by a fifth successive deficit in oil trade and a reduced surplus in services," noted Global Insight economist Howard Archer.

A spokeswoman for National Statistics said that a larger than usual increase in non-EU imports was mostly due to the purchase of aircraft, consumer goods other than cars and precious stones. Further damage to the trade-in-goods deficit came from the oil account, which has traditionally been in surplus since North Sea oil came on-stream in the late 1970s.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006