THE gap between UK imports and exports of goods reduced in November, a report has revealed.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) says the goods trade deficit fell to £9.4bn, compared to £9.7bn in October.

It said exports were strengthened by higher sales to recovering economies in the European Union.

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The report revealed that including services, the overall trade deficit narrowed to £3.2bn from £3.5bn.

It said: “In November, exports of goods to the European Union increased by £0.6bn to £12.8bn, reflecting an increase in the export of chemicals of £0.4bn.

“Imports from the European Union increased by £0.5bn to £19.2bn, a record high attributed mainly to cars.”

Andy Tuscher, regional director (North) at manufacturers' organisation EEF, said the results offered optimism.

He said: “These figures show an overall improvement in the trade deficit, though there is more of a mixed picture underneath.

“While trade in goods and export figures worsened, exports to the European Union improved and trade with China reached record highs in the three months to November.

“Overall, the outlook for trade gives us more reasons to be positive given opportunities for growth in overseas markets and we expect export sales to pick up on balance in the year ahead.”