Reacting to the latest ONS Trade figures, William Bain, Head of Trade Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said:
“The ONS did not find evidence of stockpiling of goods imports from the EU in the run up to the introduction of the new January border controls. But looking at the last six months a clear picture is emerging of significantly lower EU imports to the UK than three years ago, with a smaller reduction in exports to the EU.
“As inbound border checks to Great Britain are gradually being phased in until November this year, this is something business will be paying close attention to given the potential impacts upon supply chains.
“Looking more closely at the data the uplift in goods imported to the UK was driven by a 4.5% rise in EU imports (mainly in chemicals, machinery and transport equipment) and a 5.2% rise in non-EU imports. The uptick in chemicals is likely linked to increased vaccine production.
“UK goods exports remained broadly flat in November, with an overall 2% fall in non-EU goods exports against a 0.1% rise in EU exports, compared with October 2021.
“Comparing goods exports to the EU in November 2021 with the same month 3 years ago, they were £0.6bn lower now than then (£14.2bn vs £13.6bn). Goods imports from the EU were £3.2bn lower in November 2021 compared with November 2018 - a position which has been broadly consistent over the preceding six months.
“The overall UK trade deficit widened to £9.3bn in November, with increases in exports of metals. Continued high levels of non-EU fuel imports meant November was the 11th consecutive month in which non-EU imports exceeded those from the EU.”
More information on the ONS trade data can be found here.