Brexit continues to depress trade with the European Union, figures have shown.
Total imports and exports of goods between the UK and the EU have fallen by a quarter in the first four months of this year compared to 2019, The Independent has reported.
It comes after, in January, exports fell by 38 per cent compared to 2020.
One expert said that following new Brexit red tape trade is worse than before the pandemic.
According to the Office for National Statistics, trade with EU countries in April was 12 per cent below April 2019.
Trade with non-EU countries also fell between January and April, but only by four per cent. It then rose by three per cent in April, suggesting trade problems with Europe are most likely not related to Covid-19.
Trade expert Thomas Sampson, associate professor at the London School of Economics, said the data “continues to depress UK trade with the EU.”
He said: “Comparing changes in trade with EU versus non-EU gives a rough estimate of the Brexit effect, controlling for common supply shocks such as Covid-19.
“By this metric, Brexit cut goods trade with EU by 21 per cent so far in 2021 versus 2019.
“Or comparing April 2021 to April 2019 implies a minus-15 per cent Brexit effect.”
He added new figures show that UK ministers promising in February that trade levels would return is not what we are seeing based on the data.
‘It will get worse’
He warned trade could get even worse, because the UK government is set to introduce full controls on imports.
“As time passes, it becomes less likely that these are teething problems and more likely that we are seeing persistent effects of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement on trade with the EU,” said Dr Sampson.
He added: “The full adjustment is going to take years rather than months, and I would expect further changes over time.
“There was a bounceback in February and the hope was that this would continue in March and April. It is now clear that that did not happen.
“That is indicative that these are likely to be persistent effects and over time we will see those continue.”
In April, European Parliament politicians welcomed the conclusion of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement which sets in stone the deal that has been provisionally in force since 1 January. But they said they told TLE consider Brexit a “historic mistake” because the UK will be losing the benefits it had as an EU member.
And Northern Ireland justice minister Naomi Long told TLE that Boris Johnson has been “incredibly dishonest in promising people that they can have their cake and eat it” during the Brexit process and “blasé” in treating some of the fallout from that.