Shipping container London Gateway
A shipping container is moored at London Gateway port as UK exports falterReuters

The UK's annual trade deficit has widened to £34.8bn after a dramatic fall in the amount of goods and services exported from the UK to the rest of the world.

New figures published by the Office for National Statistics showed that the yawning deficit is largely the result of a £14.6bn drop in export revenues, compared to 2013.

The value of imports also fell last year for the first time since in five years, reaching £7.3bn.

The increased deficit reflects a hike in the import of goods from outside the European Union, the ONS said in a statement.

Much of the deficit rise can be attributed to the falling crude oil prices, which dropped dramatically in the second half of the year. Oil imports shot up, as producers and consumers sought to take advantage of the price slump.

The UK is also an oil producer, meaning that exports of the commodity would have brought in less revenue due to the price slump.

IHS' chief economist Howard Archer said there were "welcome signs" of some improvement in exports, but said falling import prices "fuel suspicion that consumer price inflation is headed down further after dropping to a 14-year low of just 0.5% in December.

"While oil prices have recently come off their lows, it currently seems unlikely that this marks the start of an appreciable rebound," he said.