Annual UK goods imports from outside the EU have surpassed the value of those from within it for the first time since ONS records began in 1997, according to new data shared with City A.M. this weekend.
Imports from the UK’s nearest trading bloc totalled £22.2bn compared to £25.4bn from all other countries in 2021 as the end of the Brexit transition period combined with an increase in global fuel imports reversed the historical trend, analysis of the latest data from Ebury showed.
Cornelius Clarke, head of desk supporting UK SMEs at Ebury, said the figures were tangible proof of the impact of Brexit on the UK’s trading patterns.
“Evidently the end of the Brexit transition period has impacted trading relationships that many UK businesses have with their EU counterparts,” Clarke told City A.M. this weekend.
“Other factors at play were the restrictions faced by lorry drivers in response to the Alpha variant at the start of 2021 alongside global supply chain bottlenecks,” he added.
“Further terms of the Brexit trade agreement are still to be implemented which could provide greater headwinds to EU imports and it may be several years before the full impact is evident.”
However, imports from China reached an all-time high in 2021 despite the rise in shipping costs indicating that UK businesses are already diversifying their supply chains.
“The ongoing free-trade negotiations with India could also present a significant opportunity for UK importers too in lowering costs and barriers to trade with a rapidly growing global economic superpower,” Clarke concluded.