Britain’s GDP sees first contraction in Q2 since 2012

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LONDON, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) — British gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by 0.2 percent in the second quarter (Q2) of 2019 compared with the first quarter, figures released Friday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed.

This is the biggest fall and the first contraction for Britain’s economic growth since 2012. The reading is also weaker than market expectations and the latest Bank of England forecast of a flat Q2.

The ONS data showed that all three main sectors of the economy – services, manufacturing and construction – struggled in Q2. Services sector output provided the only positive contribution to GDP growth, although growth in this sector slowed to 0.1 percent.

The production sector contracted by 1.4 percent in Q2, providing the largest downward contribution to GDP growth; the fall was driven by a sharp decline in manufacturing output.

According to the ONS, the volatility in the first half of 2019 largely reflected changes in the timing of activity related to the UK’s original planned Brexit date in late-March.

Commenting on GDP figures, ONS’s head of GDP Rob Kent-Smith said: “GDP contracted in the second quarter for the first time since 2012 after robust growth in the first quarter. The trade deficit narrowed markedly, as imports fell following a sharp rise in the first quarter ahead of the original departure date from the EU.”

Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid said: “This is a challenging period across the global economy, with growth slowing in many countries. But the fundamentals of the British economy are strong. The government is determined to provide certainty to people and businesses on Brexit – that’s why we are clear that the UK is leaving the EU on 31 October.”

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