Trade woes for UK businesses in the face of Brexit are continuing into 2022 as exports to the EU fall to their lowest level since 2011.
Data newly released from Eurostat shows how EU imports from the UK fell by 16.4% over a two-year period. In start contrast, imports by the EU from non-EU countries rose by 30% over the same period.
The heightening trade imbalance is due to a number of factors, including the UK’s departure from the EU. But Covid-19 also had and continues to play a big factor. Eurostat’s report notes that ‘the COVID-19 crisis caused both exports and imports between the EU and the United Kingdom to fall in 2020. Imports reached a minimum of € 7.5 billion in January 2021. By December 2021 they had recovered to € 13.5 billion. Exports reached a minimum of € 14.8 billion in April 2020. By December 2021 they had recovered to € 24.8 billion’.
Despite the fall in UK exports into the EU, last year the United Kingdom was still the second-largest partner for EU exports of goods, and the fourth largest partner for UK imports of goods.
The UK’s trade deficit has been growing weaker across the board, with data from the Office of National Statistics showing the difference between goods and services imported rose to its highest level since 1997, rising to £51.7bn in Q1 this year.
However, economists from both Eurostat and the ONS have noted that the latest data should be treated with some caution due to a change in methodology.