Home Brexit UK goods exports to EU tumbled £10.7bn in 2023, Brexit turmoil is not over yet

UK goods exports to EU tumbled £10.7bn in 2023, Brexit turmoil is not over yet

by LLB Finance Reporter
30th Apr 24 10:20 am

New Office for National Statistics (ONS) quarterly trade figures for October-December have been released, and the international delivery expert ParcelHero says they make depressing reading for those UK manufacturers and retailers who are still trying to export to the EU.

The revised figures reveal that the UK’s exports of goods to the European Union slumped by £10.7bn last year (a decrease of over -5.4%), from £196.761bn in 2022 to £186.053bn in 2023.

That’s a concerning result for UK companies hoping the worst effects of Brexit are now behind us, says the international parcel price comparison site.

UK goods exports to the EU were also down £4bn year-on-year (YOY) against Q4 2022’s export figures. While our EU goods exports rose from £45bn in Q3 to £47.3bn in Q4 last year, this was still down significantly against Q4 2022’s £51.1bn.

ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks M.I.L.T., said, ‘While many UK exporters are trying to continue trading with the EU, and just want to put Brexit behind them, new restrictions are still being introduced in a steady stream as the UK’s temporary trading arrangements with the EU expire.

‘For example, the new Border Target Operating Model (BTOM), phased in from January this year, introduces compulsory health certificates for many food and plant products from the EU that have not previously required paperwork.

‘Few UK businesses that focused on EU trade truly believed Brexit secretary David Davis’ rhetoric that: “There will be no downside to Brexit, only a considerable upside”. However, these latest figures show British businesses are still struggling under the burden of new post-Brexit bureaucracy.

‘As recently as 2022, the Government’s document “The Benefits of Business” declared: “The Government will cut £1 billion of business costs from retained EU red tape.” ‘The then Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote that the UK would: “…seize the incredible opportunities that our freedom presents and use them to build back better than ever before – making our businesses more competitive and our people more prosperous… Untangling ourselves from 40 years of EU membership, keeping what works, changing what doesn’t, supporting new industries, reinvigorating older ones and firmly planting the British flag on the world stage once again.”

‘However, these latest figures reveal Britain’s goods exports to the EU have gone backwards, rather than forwards, since 2022. Nor have claims that quitting the EU would free up the UK to achieve new export success in other international markets proved correct. The revised figures reveal the UK’s total exports to the world (including EU exports) fell from £424.4bn in 2022 to £394.7bn in 2023, a collapse of £29.7bn.

‘It’s true that Britain’s exports of services to the EU, such as finance and IT, are doing well, rising from £147.7bn to £171.1bn last year. In many ways, however, that only goes to emphasise the impact of post-Brexit measures on Britain’s goods exports.

‘Only Britain’s exports to the US kept these revised figures from being even more disappointing. UK to US goods exports saw a heartening rise from £59.3bn to £61.7bn between 2022 and 2023, a £2.4bn increase. That’s despite the fact a UK-US trade agreement seems no closer.’

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