Exports shrink UK trade deficit in February

Shipping containers
Image caption Exports of goods were at their highest level since the 1950s, the ONS said

Record exports helped narrow the UK's trade deficit with the rest of the world in February to £2.4bn from £3.9bn the previous month, figures show.

Total exports hit £30.7bn in the month, a fresh high since 1980, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The deficit on physical goods fell to £6.8bn, from £7.8bn in January, with exports at their highest levels since the 1950s.

Exports were driven by demand from markets outside the EU, the ONS said.

Imports of both goods and services fell in February, ONS said in its report.

A trade deficit occurs when a country imports more than it exports.

"The rebalancing of the UK economy towards exports seems to be on track and we expect this trend to continue in coming quarters," said Nida Ali, advisor to the Ernst & Young Item Club.

"Indeed, the economic recovery will be heavily dependent on exports over the coming year, given that households are taking a major buffeting and the government is retrenching."

The coalition government has said it wants to rebalance the UK economy by boosting manufacturing to rely less on the service sector.

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