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Britain's Trade Deficit Hits New High in 2006

Britain's overall trade deficit hit a record high in 2006, according to official data released Friday, partly due to the fact that the nation has become a net importer of oil.

The Office for National Statistics reported that the goods trade deficit was 84.3 billion pounds ($164.1 billion; 126.3 billion euros) last year, up sharply from 68.8 billion pounds in 2005. It is the highest deficit since records began in 1697.

The balance on oil trade widened to 3.7 billion pounds ($7.2 billion; 5.5 billion euros) last year from 2.2 billion pounds in 2005.

Higher imports of aircraft and silver widened the deficit on so-called "erratic" goods to 3.2 billion pounds ($6.2 billion; 4.8 billion euros), from 600 million pounds in 2005.

The Statistics Office said the goods trade deficit in December alone also was wider than expected.

The goods trade deficit widened to 7.1 billion pounds ($13.8 billion; 10.6 billion euros) in December as exports of aircraft and capital goods fell from a revised 6.9 billion pounds the month before. The November deficit had originally been published as 7.2 billion pounds.