The global recession has affected both imports and exports
The UK's goods trade deficit widened by more than expected in December, reaching an 11-month high of £7.3bn, up from £6.8bn in November.
Imports from outside the EU rose by 7.6%, with oil and aircraft a big factor, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The goods and services trade deficit was £3.3bn, compared with £2.9bn in November, the ONS said.
Analysts said the pound's weakness had not boosted exports as much as hoped.
Alan Clarke, UK economist with BNP Paribas, said: "There are signs that overseas demand is picking up from Germany, but it's going to take at least a year to improve".
For the whole of 2009, the UK's deficit on trade in goods narrowed to £81.9bn, compared with £93.4bn in 2008. This is the first decline in the annual deficit since 1997.
The global economic slowdown has curtailed trading significantly. During 2009, the level of imports fell by 10.3%, while exports dropped 9.5%.