The UK saw its worst trade performance on record in the first quarter of 2021 as the impact of Brexit continues to be felt, official statistics have revealed.
Among the figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), it was noted that real exports fell by 4.4 percent in the first three months of the year, while real imports increased by 10.4 percent.
However, the ONS did add that the figures are subject to "higher levels of uncertainty than normal", as they are the first results to reflect a new way of measuring imports between the UK and the EU.
The Financial Times noted that the large imbalance between imports and exports contributed to the UK reporting a current account deficit of 8.3 percent of gross domestic product in the first quarter of 2022 - the worst figure since records of this economic measure began in 1955.
Elsewhere, figures from Eurostat have also highlighted a dip in trade. It found that the value of EU imports from the UK fell from €169 billion (£144 billion) in 2020 to €146 billion in 2021 – a drop of 13.6 percent. When compared with 2019, before the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic affected trade globally in 2020, the drop is 25 percent.
Maroš Šefčovič, European Commission vice-president and chief Brexit negotiator, said the figures demonstrate how the decision to leave the single market has greatly increased red tape for trade between the UK and the EU.
"One result of Brexit was the return of a customs border between the EU and Great Britain", he said. "This means paperwork for virtually every product shipping between our markets. It means checks on thousands of goods being carried out on a daily basis."