A new government report shows a steep fall in trade with both EU and non-EU countries – with Brexit having a bigger impact than Covid.
According to Office for National Statistics data trade with EU countries has declined 23.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2021, compared with the same quarter in 2018 – seen as the last stable trading period.
While the pandemic has been wreaking havoc on global trade, the data compiled by the ONS suggests this has been easing back while the Brexit hit has ramped up.
Results of a business poll carried out by the ONS at the end of February revealed that firms named the December 31 end of the EU transition period as their main trading challenge.
But, in contrast, those reporting the coronavirus crisis as their biggest challenge fell.
Commenting on the data, ParcelHero’s head of consumer research, David Jinks said: “The key takeaway from this report is that UK trade has not just hit a run of bad luck.
“While no one could have predicted the pandemic, the end of the EU transition period was entirely foreseeable and its worst effects the result of an 11th hour deal that came too late for most exporters.
“The deal contained huge fudges, including both the Northern Ireland Protocol and overcomplicated proof of origin requirements to prove items were made in the EU or UK.”