Visible Trade Balance – UK

The difference between imports and exports of goods. Visible Trade differentiates itself from Trade Balance because it does not record intangibles like services, only reporting on physical goods. Because Britain’s economy is highly trade driven, Visible Trade data can give critical insight into developments in the economy and into foreign exchange rates.

Negative Visible Trade (deficit) indicates that imports of goods are greater than exports. When exports are greater than imports, the UK experiences a trade surplus. Trade surpluses indicate that funds are coming into the UK in exchange for exported goods. Because such exported goods are usually purchased with Pounds, trade surpluses usually reflect currency flowing into Britain, such currency inflows may lead to a natural appreciation of Pound Sterling, unless countered by similar capital outflows. At a bare minimum, surpluses will buoy the value of the currency.

There are a number of factors that work to diminish the market impact of UK Visible Trade on markets. The report is not very timely, released monthly about forty days after the reporting period. Developments in many of the components that comprise the figure are also usually well anticipated. Lastly, since the report reflect data for a specific reporting month, any significant changes in Visible Trade should plausibly have been already felt during that quarter and not during the release of data. But because of the overall significance of Trade on Foreign Exchange Rates, the figure has a history of being one of the more important reports out of the UK.

The headline figure is expressed as the value of the merchandise trade surplus or deficit in billions of Pounds.

Relevance: Tends to move markets on release
Release schedule : 8:30 (GMT); monthly, within 40 days following the reporting month
Revisions schedule : Revisions can be large
Source of report : Office of National Statistics
Web Address :
Address of release :
Select ‘Economy’ in Browse by Theme drop down
Refer > Balance of Payments > Balance of Trade > Balance in Trade of Goods
AKA : Trade Balance on Goods, Merchandise Trade Balance

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