I’m always, as you know, interested in the misuse of statistics:
The last time the United Kingdom exported more goods than it imported was 1983. For most years until 1997, its trade surplus in services more than compensated for its deficit in goods, but since that year the value of the deficit in goods has risen eight times, while the surplus in services has only doubled, which has made the UK a net importer overall for the past 15 years, with its share of world trade declining by 25%.
It’s that last little part. Sure, we’ve gone from surplus to deficit. But trade volume has increased. And without looking at the figures I’m pretty sure that trade as a percentage of GDP has risen too. It’s not that the UK’s trade performance has been so weedy that our portion of world trade has declined. It’s that there’s been this rather large growth in the trade of other countries meaning that, even as absolute trade increases our portion of trade declines.
You know, that billions of people getting richer in the Third World by people buying the things that they make thing?