UK exports of metalworking machine tools in 1996 rose 23.5% compared with the previous year, according to figures from the Machine Tool Technologies Association.
The rise to £546m outstripped the increase in imports, but was not sufficient to close the trade gap.
Despite a slower rate of growth at 14.2%, imports amounted to £642.5m.
The MTTA attributed the £96m trade deficit to imports of specialist equipment from the US for the semiconductor industry.
In the industry itself, machining centres in the UK saw one of the best trade surpluses in the sector at £39m. This was followed by unit construction and transfer machines, which saw a surplus of £7m.
CNC lathes suffered a £19m trade deficit in the metal cutting sector, but had considerably closed the gap on the previous year’s £24m deficit.