Exports and imports from Britain to the European Union plunged in January – the first month of the nation’s new trade relationship with the bloc – according to data published Friday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The figures show the “largest” monthly fall since records began in 1997, said the ONS. It had previously warned that the hit to trade from the Covid-19 pandemic would make it difficult to identify a Brexit impact from new customs arrangements in January’s data. It, however, added there were signs that this hurt trade at the start of the year. “External evidence suggests some of the slower trade for goods in early January 2021 could be attributable to disruption caused by the end of the transition period,” the ONS said.
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It also noted that companies had been stockpiling ahead of the end of the Brexit transition period, and may have been using up that stock instead of buying new goods in January.
Official data showed on Friday that Britain’s economy shrank by a less severe than expected 2.9 percent in January from December as the country went back into a coronavirus lockdown.
“The economy took a notable hit in January, albeit smaller than some expected, with retail, restaurants, schools and hairdressers all affected by the latest lockdown,” said ONS statistician Jonathan Athow.
According to the data, the UK economy shrank by 9.2 percent year-on-year in January.
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