In December 2016, exports of goods and services increased by 2.4 percent from the previous month to an all-time high of £48.8 billion, mainly due to an increase in exports of goods to non-EU countries of £1.1 billion. Sales rose for erratic commodities, in particular non-monetary gold and aircraft; non-ferrous and other metals; and chemicals.
Imports rose by 1.7 percent also to a record high of £52.1 billion, boosted by increases in the imports of material manufactures, including non-ferrous metals, iron and steel; machinery; road vehicles other than cars; and miscellaneous finished manufactures, including jewellery. By contrast, the imports of oil and chemicals fell.
In the fourth quarter of 2016, the deficit on goods and services narrowed by £5.6 billion to £8.6 billion from £14.1 billion in the previous period. This reflects an increase in exports in goods of £7.8 billion, mainly due to an increase in exports of goods to non-EU countries, while imports rose at a slower £2.2 billion. Exports of goods to non-EU countries rose by 17.3 percent to £43.8 billion. There was a smaller increase of 3.5 percent for exports to the EU, to £38.3 billion for the same period. Imports of goods from EU countries increased by 4.1 percent to £63.6 billion, with increases across all commodity groups. Imports to non-EU countries fell by 2.9 percent to £51.1 billion over the same period.
Considering 2016 full year, the total trade deficit widened to £39.4 billion from £29.8 billion in 2015, as imports increased more than exports. Purchases of goods and services went up by 6.4 percent to £582.3 billion from £547.2 billion the previous year, mainly due to higher imports of goods, with 61.2 percent of this rise coming from EU countries. Exports rose by 4.9 percent to £542.9 billion from £517.4 billion in 2015.