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Deficit grows


In 1990, manufacturing was 23 per cent of the economy; in 2005, 14 per cent. So it's no surprise that in 2007's third quarter, our trade deficit was £20 billion (5.7 per cent of GDP). The deficit grew again in the fourth quarter: on trade it was £4.4 billion in November, up from £4.3 billion in October. The goods trade deficit widened to £7.38 billion, compared with October's £7.35 billion.

This size of monthly deficit used to be considered a disaster when it was for the whole of a year. The City was said to be "surprised" by the size of the deficit. Data from the Office for National Statistics showed an "unexpected" decline in our manufacturing sector in November. They don't seem to get anything right, do they?