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New figures highlight collapse of UK exports to the EU Big Four

New export figures from the UK government’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) paint a stark picture of the reality of post-Brexit trade, showing how UK exports collapsed to the EU’s Big Four of Germany, France, Italy, and Spain.

International delivery expert ParcelHero found that the anticipated increase in trade beyond Europe post-Brexit also failed to materialise. Exports to the vital markets of the USA and China slumped as well.

“UK exports of goods and services to four of our largest traditional trading partners look grim. Starting with Germany, our combined exports fell from over £56 billion (£56.345 billion) in 2019 – the year before the UK left the EU – to £50.261 billion in 2020, a collapse of over £6 billion. Worse still, they fell even further in 2021, to £47.285 billion. Comparing the results for 2019 and 2021, that’s a slump of almost £10 billion in exports to Germany alone,” David Jinks M.I.L.T., ParcelHero’s head of consumer research, said.

“Exports to France tell a similar story. Total exports of goods and services to our nearest Continental neighbour totalled £40.285 billion in 2019. In 2020, they slumped to £31.817 billion, a collapse of over £8.4 billion. In 2021, they picked up falteringly to £32.289 billion, but that’s still over £7.9 billion shy of where they had been pre-Brexit.”

“Total exports to Italy suffered a similar blow. In pre-Brexit 2019, they stood at £17.768 billion. In 2020, they fell to £14.508 billion and slumped still further, to £14.245 billion, in 2021.”

“For those hoping for more warmth from our export figures to Spain, there is further disappointment. In 2019, before Brexit struck, our combined exports were £19.391 billion. In 2020, they plummeted to £14.282 billion and they fell by a further billion, to £13.216 billion, in 2021.”

“Britain’s exporters of goods, from food to cars, have all suffered from the impact of the poorly negotiated Brexit trade agreement and increased red tape and duties. The same applies to services, from finance to computing, which now fall outside the regulated EU services market.”

“Perhaps most disappointingly, these latest results reveal Britain failed to successfully transition away from the EU to other lucrative overseas markets – one of the positive outcomes promised by Brexiteers. Looking at two vital export markets beyond the EU, the numbers also tumbled.”

‘The Brexiteers’ promised special trading relationship with America conspicuously failed to materialise. Back in 2019, we exported £141.387 billion of goods and services to the USA. In 2020, the first year of Brexit, that collapsed to £127.709 billion. That’s a fall of over £13 billion. In 2021, those figures rose to £133.120 billion but were still over £8 billion short of where they were pre-Brexit.”

‘And the growth market of China, which British companies such as Jaguar-Land Rover had made a key priority, produced another collapse. In pre-Brexit 2019, the UK exported £35.872 billion of goods and services to China. In 2020, that tumbled to £27.162 billion, a slump of nearly £9 billion. The following year, there was a moderate improvement, as combined figures rose to £27.488 billion, but this was still well short of their 2019 total.”

“Perhaps the situation is summed up best by looking at the UK’s exports to the whole of the EU. In 2019, they stood at a healthy £298.146 billion. By 2021, they had slumped by £30 billion to £267.397 billion, but even that was a huge lift from the £258.733 billion they had tumbled to in 2020, in the immediate aftermath of Brexit.”

“With the shadow of the Northern Ireland Protocol bill hanging over the next stage of post-Brexit discussions, it’s a concerning situation that Kemi Badenoch, the incoming Secretary of State for International Trade, has inherited.”

By: Edward Hardy


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