Exports and imports of goods between the United Kingdom and the European Union fell sharply in January, the first month of their new post-Brexit relationship.
Britain’s statistics office said disruption caused by the end of the transition period contributed to the fall although a new COVID-19 lockdown in the country and stockpiling before the Jan. 1 rule change were also factors.
It said there were signs of a pickup in trade flows with the bloc towards the end of the month.
Following is a summary of some of the data on Britain’s trade in January with the EU, which accounts for about half its goods imports and exports:
FOOD AND LIVE ANIMALS
British food exporters have been among the hardest-hit by the country’s departure from the EU’s single market. They have faced new paperwork delays that can make their products no longer fit for sale.
The Office for National Statistics said exports of food and live animals from the United Kingdom to the EU slumped to 376 million pounds ($523 million) in January - about half their monthly average in 2020.
EU imports fell less severely to 1.95 billion pounds, down from their 2020 level of about 2.3 billion pounds a month.
One of Britain’s big exports, the sale of chemicals to the EU, fell to just under 1.2 billion pounds in January, about half their usual level before companies began to stockpile at the end of last year.
Imports from the EU fell to 2.64 billion pounds, having spent most of 2020 above 3 billion pounds.
MACHINERY AND TRANSPORT EQUIPMENT
This category, which includes cars, saw exports from Britain fall to the lowest since the depths of the global financial crisis, excluding a slump last spring caused by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, which closed factories. Imports from the EU fell to their lowest levels since 2012, excluding last spring. ($1 = 0.7192 pounds)
Reporting by William Schomberg; Editing by Hugh Lawson