Imports from the block fell 29% to £ 16.2 billion ($ 22.6 billion) in January compared to the previous month, when UK companies stocked up to the end of the Brexit transition period. Import and export figures do not include trade in gold and other precious metals.
The ONS said activity declined with the largest monthly decline in the UK’s overall merchandise imports and exports since 1997.
Since the United Kingdom finished its departure from the European Union on 31 December, British exporters have struggled with new border checks and customs procedures that have delayed shipments to Europe. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has described the difficulties as “initial problems” prompting pushback from business groups.
ONS said in a statement on Friday, “External evidence suggests that some of the freight trade in early January 2021 may be disrupted by the end of the transition period.” Imports and exports began to increase at the end of the month, it added.
ONS said the business has “not been specific in recent months” and use caution when comparing reports to recent data. The United Kingdom also went into a new national coronavirus lockdown in early January, weighing on economic activity.
UK GDP fell 2.9% in January compared to the previous month, when it expanded according to ONS. GDP was 9% below last February’s level before the coronovirus hit. The ONS said the services sector acted as the main pressure on growth, while manufacturing suffered its first contraction from April 2020.
Brexit kills fish
A clear example of what Brexit means for UK companies comes from Scotland’s fishing industry, which was put in jeopardy by the post-Brexit tapes, which meant that fresh fish did not reach customers on time Could reach and in some cases they had to be dumped.
Head of Capital Economics UK economist, Paul Dales, said, “While losses in exports and imports were not entirely due to Brexit, they increase the likelihood that Brexit will have a long-term impact on trade flows.”
According to ONS, exports of food and live animals, including seafood, to the European Union decreased by about 64% in January compared to the previous month.
The ONS said pharmaceutical products traded with European Union countries suffered the biggest drop in imports and exports, a result of stockpiling in preparation for Brexit.