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Sat March 06 2021

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Construction trade gap target still being missed by miles

15 Jan 19 Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the UK’s trade deficit in construction materials widened by £4.52m to £2,550m in the third quarter of 2018.

The construction materials trade deficit for the first three quarters of 2018 was £7.8bn.

In 2013 the government’s Construction Leadership Council set out to reduce the UK’s construction materials trade gap by 50% by 2025. It is clearly failing to achieve that goal.

The target set out in 2013 in the Construction 2025 strategy document is to bring the trade gap down from 2012’s £6bn to £3bn by 2025.

However, by 2016 the UK’s trade deficit in construction materials was £9.1bn and in 2017 it was £9.9bn.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy will publish its first estimate of the full-year 2018 deficit in March, but with it running at £7.8bn for the first three quarters, there can be little expectation of anything better than a very modest reduction.

Since the start of 1984 to the third quarter of 2018, construction materials imports have increased, on average by 4.0% every quarter. Over the same period, exports have increased by an average of 2.3% per quarter.

The trade deficit was historically at its smallest throughout the 1990s, with a mean of £300m over this period. This trade deficit was 24% of the value of imports. The Q3 2018 trade deficit of £2,550 million represents 57% of the value of imports.

It remains to be seen what impact Brexit may have on the UK’s trade in construction materials.

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