New figures show post-Brexit slump in UK exports to EU Big Four

New figures from the government’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) have highlighted that UK exports to the ‘EU Big Four’ of Germany, France, Italy and Spain have “collapsed”.

International delivery firm ParcelHero has stated that the anticipated increase in trade beyond Europe post-Brexit also failed to materialise, with exports to the vital markets of the USA and China slumping as well.

ParcelHero’s head of consumer research, David Jinks, said: “UK exports of goods and services to four of our largest traditional trading partners look grim. Starting with Germany, our combined exports fell from £56.345bn in 2019 – the year before the UK left the EU – to £50.261bn in 2020, a collapse of over £6bn. Worse still, they fell even further in 2021, to £47.285bn. Comparing the results for 2019 and 2021, that’s a slump of almost £10bn in exports to Germany alone.”

He continued by explaining that exports to France also fell with total exports of goods and services to our nearest continental neighbour totalled £40.285bn in 2019. In 2020, they slumped to £31.817bn, a collapse of over £8.4bn. In 2021, they picked up to £32.289bn, but that’s still over £7.9bn shy of where they had been pre-Brexit.

Total exports to Italy suffered a similar blow. In pre-Brexit 2019, they stood at £17.768bn. In 2020, they fell to £14.508bn and slumped still further, to £14.245bn, in 2021.

Jinks added: “For those hoping for more warmth from our export figures to Spain, there is further disappointment. In 2019, before Brexit struck, our combined exports were £19.391bn. In 2020, they plummeted to £14.282bn and they fell by a further billion, to £13.216bn, in 2021.

“Britain’s exporters of goods, from food to cars, have all suffered from the impact of the poorly negotiated Brexit trade agreement and increased red tape and duties. The same applies to services, from finance to computing, which now fall outside the regulated EU services market.

“Perhaps most disappointingly, these latest results reveal Britain failed to successfully transition away from the EU to other lucrative overseas markets – one of the positive outcomes promised by Brexiteers. Looking at two vital export markets beyond the EU, the numbers also tumbled.”

ParcelForce stressed that while the Brexiteers’ had promised special trading relationship with America such a relationship has failed to materialise. Back in 2019, the UK exported £141.387bn of goods and services to the US. In 2020, the first year of Brexit, that fell to £127.709bn. That’s a decrease of over £13bn. In 2021, those figures rose to £133.120bn but Jinks stressed it is still over £8bn short of where they were pre-Brexit.

Additionally, the growth market of China, which British companies such as Jaguar-Land Rover had made a key priority, produced another collapse. In pre-Brexit 2019, the UK exported £35.872bn of goods and services to China. In 2020, that tumbled to £27.162bn, a slump of nearly £9bn. The following year, there was a moderate improvement, as combined figures rose to £27.488bn, but this was still well short of their 2019 total.

Jinks concluded: “Perhaps the situation is summed up best by looking at the UK’s exports to the whole of the EU. In 2019, they stood at a healthy £298.146bn. By 2021, they had slumped by £30bn to £267.397bn, but even that was a huge lift from the £258.733bn they had tumbled to in 2020, in the immediate aftermath of Brexit.

“With the shadow of the Northern Ireland Protocol bill hanging over the next stage of post-Brexit discussions, it’s a concerning situation that Kemi Badenoch, the incoming Secretary of State for International Trade, has inherited.”

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