Confidence ‘picking up’ as UK exports into EU rebound

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Trade between the UK and the EU recovered in February after a big drop at the start of the year. 

Following the end of the transition period and the start of ‘Brexit for real’ for companies on both sides of the Channel, exporting activity had slumped 42%. 

But data from the ONS found that exports jumped almost 47% in February, but are still below last year’s activity. 

February’s rebound was predominantly fueled by export increases of machinery, transport equipment and chemicals – particularly cards and pharma products. Interestingly, growth in exports from the UK to the EU was stronger than EU into the UK. 

An ONS spokesperson said of the data that: “Exports to the EU recovered significantly from their January fall, though still remain below 2020 levels. However, imports from the EU are yet to significantly rebound, with a number of issues hampering trade.”

Read more: Food and drink exports crippled by Brexit and lockdowns

The rebound against January’s slump is still difficult to truly analyse to see how export markets are responding to Brexit. Many companies avoided sending goods across the border at the start of the year to avoid expected Brexit disruption, especially across machinery, parts and pharmaceutical products that were stockpiled towards the end of 2020.

The ongoing pandemic also continues to skew and disrupt demand. 

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