The latest UK trade figures for February 2021 show a partial rebound for exports to the EU after the historic downturn in January.
Released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) the figures show goods imports increased by £3.7bn (46.6%). This follows a record fall of £5.7bn (negative 42.0%) in January. Imports of goods from the EU showed a weaker increase of £1.2bn (7.3%) in February after a fall of £6.7 billion (negative 29.7%) in January.
Commenting on the ONS UK-EU trade figures for February 2021, Paul Walters, Head of International Trade at the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce said:
“The bounce back in February was not unexpected, many companies had either built up stocks prior to the end of transition or avoided shipping in January. This should not however disguise the ongoing issues with logistics, documentation and understanding of the new regulations that continue to cause issues for many exporters and importers.
“Simplification and harmonisation of documentary requirements on both sides are needed to ease the flow of trade between the U.K. and the E.U or we are in danger as a country of losing market share to suppliers within the single market.”
The main points of the report are:
- Exports of goods to the EU, excluding non-monetary gold and other precious metals, partially rebounded in February 2021, increasing by £3.7 billion (46.6%) after a record fall of £5.7 billion (negative 42.0%) in January.
- The increases in exports to the EU in February 2021 were driven by machinery and transport equipment and chemicals, particularly cars and medicinal and pharmaceutical products.
- Imports of goods from the EU, excluding non-monetary gold and other precious metals, showed a weaker increase of £1.2 billion (7.3%) in February 2021 after a record fall of £6.7 billion (negative 29.7%) in January.
- The more modest increase in imports from the EU were driven by machinery and transport equipment, and chemicals, particularly cars and medicinal and pharmaceutical products.
- Total imports of goods from non-EU countries, excluding non-monetary gold and other precious metals, increased by £1.7 billion (10.2%) in February 2021 while exports fell by £1.5 billion (negative 10.5%).
- The total trade deficit for February 2021, excluding non-monetary gold and other precious metals, widened by £0.5 billion to £1.4 billion; imports increased by £2.9 billion (6.5%) and exports increased by £2.3 billion (5.4%).
- The total trade deficit, excluding non-monetary gold and other precious metals, narrowed by £2.1 billion to £6.3 billion in the three months to February 2021; imports decreased by £5.7 billion (negative 3.8%), while exports decreased by £3.6 billion (negative 2.5%).
- Trade in services imports and exports have consistently remained at a lower level since Q2 2020 as services accounts such as travel and transport trade continue to be affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.