Barry Gardiner MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade, commenting on the ‘holiday goods exports’ statistics released by the Department for International Trade, said:

“These holiday goods statistics are an attempt by Liam Fox to divert attention from the weak performance of UK trade under his watch. Yesterday’s ONS figures showed that, excluding erratic items, the monthly trade deficit for June is the worst since November 2011.

“Celebrating the success of British ice cream, sunglasses and swimwear is all very well, but the truth is that the UK is a net importer of all those products. All in all we import £93 million more of sunglasses, £132 million more of ice cream, and £74 million more of swimwear than we export. Of course the real irony is that our major trading partners for all of these ‘holiday goods’ are European countries such as Italy, Germany, Ireland, France and Belgium. This just reinforces the importance of a future trade agreement with the EU. That must be the government’s top trade priority.

“Celebrating the flow of foreign direct investment to the UK is all very well too, but the Department for International Trade has been reluctant to tell us the value of these investment. More investments in number may not be more in value.

“Putting out selective figures may be politically convenient for Liam Fox; but it will not mask the fact that he does not have a coherent trade strategy to improve our widening trade deficit. Trade trips around the world are impressive but British businesses are crying out for a trade strategy that is aligned with a proper industrial programme. That would give business the real confidence it needs to boost investment, increase productivity and bring our worsening trade deficit under control.”


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