Trade recovering

Exports to EU ‘almost back to pre-Brexit levels’

Trade with the EU is recovering

British exports to the European Union are slowly recovering, contrary to claims that Brexit has permanently damaged cross-Channel trade.

Official figures for March show exports to the EU rose by 8.6% to £12.7billion – just shy of the £13.6bn recorded in December before Britain left the bloc and when there was a surge of trade as companies stocked up ahead of the Brexit deadline.

The March figure is also well above the £7.9bn of exports in January when a slump was anticipated as companies struggled to adjust to the new trading rules.

The latest rise was largely due to a revival in the exports of vehicles and live animals – including fish and shellfish.

The Office for National Statistics, which published the figures, said exports to the EU “are now almost back to their December level”.

Matt Hughes, statistician at the ONS, said: “There’s been a recovery in February and March. Businesses have got used to the border requirements, namely trade documentation and additional paperwork. The car market recovery has helped.”

However, ONS also revealed that imports of goods from the rest of the world are now higher than from EU countries for the first time since records began in 1997.

Imports from non-EU countries totalled £54.7bn in the first quarter of the year, compared to £50.7bn of imports from the EU.

UK GDP shrank by only 1.5% over the first quarter and analysts are now forecasting a strong rebound over the summer as huge sectors of the economy return to life.

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