UK exports to EU recover following post-Brexit slump

Brexit | | MIC Customs Solutions |

New figures show some recovery in UK exports to the EU in February, though total volumes are still down on last year.

Exports to the EU from the UK partially recovered in February following a major downturn in the immediate aftermath of Brexit, though trade volumes remain significantly below last year's levels.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed exports increased by 46.6 percent month-on-month in February, or £3.7 billion, to total £11.6 billion.

The increase was driven by machinery, transport equipment and chemicals, the research found.

However, this was still not enough to make up for the 42 percent drop experienced in January, which was the first month after the end of the Brexit transition period and saw the introduction of various new customs rules and tariffs.

The ONS noted that some of January's slump could be put down to stockpiling ahead of the Brexit deadline, so February's increase could indicate many of these stored goods have now been used and trade activities are returning to normal.

However, it added that imports to the UK from the EU have yet to see a similar rebound, as there are a number of issues still hampering trade.

EU imports rose by 7.3 percent, or £1.2 billion, in February to reach £17.1 billion. However, this followed a drop of 29.7 percent the previous month.

The ONS said it was too early to make any conclusions about the impact of the new trading arrangements with Europe, though the UK government said the figures showed "welcome growth" that is in line with its predictions.

"The vast majority of traders and hauliers have adapted well, and our focus now is on making sure that any business that is still facing challenges gets the support they need to trade effectively with the EU," a government spokesman said.

However, industry groups have warned that there are still a large number of barriers to trading with the EU, which is causing huge confusion for many firms.

Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses Mike Cherry said: "International sales are way down on where they were at this time last year. A fifth of small exporters have halted sales to the EU temporarily and some have already given up on selling into the bloc on a permanent basis."