Trade with Germany slumped in the month after transition period ended
11th March 2021

Exports crash as Brexit red tape kicks in: Trade with Germany slumped in the month after transition period ended, data shows

  • German imports from the UK fell 56 per cent in the first full month after Brexit
  • This compares to just a 13.9 per cent fall in imports from other non-EU states
  • France also reported a slip in imports from the UK, seeing a slide of 20 per cent

Trade between the UK and Germany crashed in January amid chaos caused by Brexit and the pandemic.

In the first full month after the transition period ended, Germany’s imports from the UK more than halved compared with the same time a year ago, tumbling 56 per cent to £1.4billion.

The data indicated Germany’s trading relationship with the UK was hit far worse than its dealings with other countries. 

Its imports from non-EU states besides Britain fell by 13.9 per cent.

In the first full month after the transition period ended, Germany’s imports from the UK more than halved compared with the same time a year ago, tumbling 56 per cent to £1.4billion (file image of trucks at Cherbourg Harbour on January 21, 2021)

German exports to the UK slipped by 29 per cent to £3.7billion as new customs checks led to disruption and delays at borders, figures from the country’s national statistics arm showed.

Alex Altmann, a partner at accountancy firm Blick Rothenberg and Brexit analyst, said: ‘We are currently in the midst of a bitter divorce from the EU, which has left large parts of our economy struggling with more red tape, higher compliance costs and less opportunities to trade.’

France’s customs office said imports from the UK slid by 20 per cent in January. 

For Italy the fall was an even more dramatic 70 per cent. Ports chaos caused by the pandemic also hit trade.  

UK businesses had already been warning that cross-border trade had collapsed in January, as firms tried to get to grips with the new rules hammered out by Boris Johnson in his trade agreement with Brussels.

The fall in trade activity will come as a worry to British companies which export to the EU, as well as to Government officials who are trying to support the economy by broadening trade agreements with other countries

The Covid pandemic, which has led to chaos at ports as lockdowns meant ships were in the wrong place for the time of year, has worsened Brexit issues.

Manufacturers in the UK were experiencing the third-biggest increase in supplier delivery times in February since records began in 1992, according to a closely watched survey of business activity from IHS Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply.

The fall in trade activity will come as a worry to British companies which export to the EU, as well as to Government officials who are trying to support the economy by broadening trade agreements with other countries.

As the data from France came out earlier this month, the Government said: ‘The latest available data shows that overall freight volumes between the UK and the EU are back to their normal levels.’

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