UK economy stalls in fourth quarter of 2019

Monitoring Desk

LONDON: Britain’s economy saw zero growth in the final quarter of last year as manufacturing shrank heading into the country’s general election that unlocked Brexit, official data showed Tuesday.

“There was no growth in the last quarter of 2019 as increases in the services and construction sectors were offset by another poor showing from manufacturing, particularly the motor industry,” said Rob Kent-Smith at the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

UK manufacturing contracted 0.8 percent in the October-December period, the ONS said.

Britain finally departed the European Union on January 31 after Prime Minister Boris Johnson in December led his Conservative party to victory in national polls.

“We’ve broken the deadlock and left the EU — now we need to seize this moment to level up and prepare our great nation for long-term success,” finance minister Sajid Javid said in a statement Tuesday following release of the growth data.

“In my budget, exactly one month from today, I’ll set out how we will move forward, with more ambition and new thinking, and empower our people and businesses so everyone has the opportunity to thrive,” Chancellor of the Exchequer Javid added.

On the eve of Brexit however, the Bank of England slashed its UK economic growth forecasts for this year and next, as the country faces tough negotiations with the EU on striking a new trade deal.

The British economy would expand by only 0.8 percent this year, the BoE said last month, down sharply on its previous 1.2-percent forecast.

In 2021, gross domestic product was expected to grow 1.4 percent, down on the central bank’s estimate of 1.7 percent given in November. (AFP/APP)