UK exports to EU return to robust growth

Photo: EPA

Trade relations between UK and EU have returned to the fast growth lane in February after the registered January disruption, BBC reported, quoting official statistics data. British exports to the EU jumped by 46.6%,  to £11.6bn, following January's 42% slump when firms struggled with new trade rules related to Brexit. However, the UK Office for National Statistics noted that exports were still below last year's levels and imports from the EU had seen a weaker recovery. Other figures from the ONS showed the UK economy grew by 0.4% in February.

Last month's trade figures were the first since new trading rules came into force as a result of Brexit trade rule changes. Both the ONS and business analysts said the drop in trade flows was partly caused by stockpiling in December 2020, as businesses tried to get ahead of the introduction of the new rules, depressing trade in January.

In addition, the end of the temporary trading arrangement between the UK and the EU coincided with the discovery of a new strain of Covid-19 in the UK, which caused further complications and delays, after lorry drivers were required to take tests before crossing the border at the English Channel. An ONS spokesperson said: "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." The Federation of Small Businesses said overall sales had dropped by £2.5bn and its members needed more help. The ONS said the export increases were driven by machinery, transport equipment and chemicals. However ONS elaborated it was too early to make any conclusions about the impact of the new trading arrangements with Europe. Total imports of goods from non-EU countries rose by 10.2% to £17.9bn in February, while exports fell by 10.5% to £12.7bn.

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