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Mon February 18 2019

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Construction trade gap target still being missed by miles

15 Jan 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.

MPU

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