LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s economy looks set to grow at its fastest rate since 2007 this year, but the rapid pace is unlikely to be sustained, the British Chambers of Commerce said on Wednesday after nudging up its growth forecasts for this year and next.
The BCC said it expected Britain’s economy to grow by 3.2 percent this year and by 2.8 percent in 2015, up from forecasts of 3.1 percent and 2.7 percent three months earlier and a little above economists’ average forecast in a Reuters poll.
Britain’s upturn contrasts with a stagnant euro zone.
However, this stronger growth comes from higher consumer spending on the back of faster-than-expected recent falls in unemployment, and the BCC said it was halving its forecast for export growth this year to just 0.8 percent.
“The task at hand is to ensure that the stellar 2014 growth is not a flash in the pan,” said BCC Director-General John Longworth. “A strong international trade performance is key if we are to steer away from a reliance on consumer spending.”
The BCC’s forecast for trade is much more downbeat than one made by the Bank of England earlier this month, which predicted export growth of 2.25 percent this year.
Britain had made progress in reducing its large trade deficit since the financial crisis. But renewed economic stagnation in the euro zone, Britain’s main export market, show the headwinds that exporters face.
Longworth also urged the central bank to keep interest rates “low for as long as possible”. The BCC forecast a first rate rise in February, and rates of 1.25 percent by the end of 2015.
Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by Robin Pomeroy