River Thames London financial district Canary Wharf
Construction grew stronger than expected but GDP growth is slowREUTERS Russell Boyce

The UK gross domestic product (GDP) rose in line with expectation at 0.3% in the first three months of 2015, the lowest growth rate since the fourth quarter of 2012.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced the estimated quarterly GDP growth on 28 May 2015 in a statement which said that the GDP increased by 2.8% in 2014 compared to 2013, also as expected.

Economists initially expected a slow start to 2015 but ONS announced that construction and industry output were stronger than expected, which led economists to believe in a higher than expected GDP increase.

"This figure exaggerates the scale of the slowdown and is likely to be revised upwards," said David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

Kern did, however, mentioned the widening trade deficit and said it was troubling. The overall trade deficit increased by 37.5% to £13.2bn ($20.2bn, €18.5bn), after UK imports grew 2.3% in the quarter and exports fell slightly.

The trade deficit has been growing for years. The BCC said that it wants to see the UK economy to be much more export-driven.

"The government must spark a revolution in exports by encouraging more businesses to explore international markets," Kern said. "Unless we see firm action to improve our export performance, it will be difficult to sustain strong growth in the long term. This must be a priority for the government."

The Bank of England said it expects the GDP rise to be adjusted to 0.5% once all data is available.

In its inflation report published on 13 May 2015, the Bank said it expects the GDP to rise 2.5% in 2015 after it rose by 2.3% in 2014, the highest rate since 2006.