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Britain’s trade deficit hits 5-month high in November

UK’s trade deficit has risen to a five-month high amid growing concerns over Britain’s planned exit from the European Union and looming Brexit talks.

The gap between exports and imports widened by half a billion pounds in November to a five-month high of 2.8 billion pounds, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement on Wednesday.

“This trade data won’t exactly help UK plc in negotiations with Europe, as we begin crucial trade talks in earnest this year and with the Brexit deadline looming large,” said Jacob Deppe, head of trading at online trading platform Infinox.

“Further negative trade balances will undoubtedly be used by Brexiteers to justify the need to strike new trading relationships around the world,” he added.

“But in reality they only help to highlight the weaknesses within the UK economy, which are bound to be exploited in negotiations both with Europe and other potential trading partners post-Brexit.”

Experts believe the worsening deficit highlights the weaknesses within the UK economy.

The EU has slashed UK’s economic growth forecast for 2018 and said the slowdown would continue through 2019 as uncertainties over Brexit weigh on the economy.

Brussels believes that the British economy will slow to 1.3 percent in 2018 and 1.1 percent in 2019.

The figures put Britain’s economy lowest in the bloc with Italy, and far behind the growth rate predicted for the euro area, which is expected to be 2.2 percent this year and 2.1 percent in 2018.

The slow progress of Brexit talks has fueled fears that British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government may collapse, or worse that London may fail to strike a withdrawal agreement with Brussels before its formal exit from the EU on March 29, 2019, which could cause economic and transport turmoil in the UK and EU.

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