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UPDATE 1-Brexit hits Portugal-UK trade in February, global trade gap shrinks

(Recasts, adds details)

LISBON, April 9 (Reuters) - Britain’s exit from the European Union hit Portugal’s trade with the United Kingdom sharply in February, official data showed on Friday, with imports more than halving and exports dropping 15%,in sharp contrast with intra-EU trade data.

Still, the data from Portugal’s National Statistics Institute showed the country’s global trade deficit in February shrank to 708 million euros ($841.6 million) from nearly 1.55 billion euros a year earlier, as total exports of goods rose 2.3% and imports fell nearly 11%.

The value of goods brought in from Britain fell 56%, compared to a drop of just 10.3% in imports from 27 European Union countries.

The UK left the European Union’s single market at the end of last year, raising barriers to trade. That final split followed more than four years of wrangling over its terms of exit from the EU.

While Portugal’s sales to the European Union rose 1.3%, exports to the United Kingdom fell over 15%, INE data showed.

It did not provide a breakdown of the type of goods by country, but overall exports of Portuguese food and beverages - much of which is usually sold to Britain - rose 7.9% after a 10.3% fall in January. The export categories registering a fall in February were transport and consumer goods, down 5.5% and 1.8%.

The sharpest fall in imports, of 35%, was in transport equipment, which INE attributed mainly to deliveries of aircrafts, especially from France.

$1 = 0.8413 euros Reporting by Andrei Khalip, Editing by Victoria Waldersee and Chizu Nomiyama

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