Commenting on ONS Trade figures for September 2021, published today, William Bain, Head of Trade Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

Imports from outside the EU were higher than those from the EU for the ninth month in a row. This was driven by a 30% increase in non-EU fuel imports in September (predominantly oil and gas from Norway and oil from the US), although fuel imports from the EU also rose.

Comparing Q3 with Q2 this year non-EU goods exports fell by 5.5% while imports rose by 2.8% over that period - at a faster rate (2.8% v 2.2%) than imports from the EU.

“Overall, the data shows a 5.7% increase in goods exports to the EU month on month, but EU goods exports in Q3 were still 1.2% lower than Q2 2021. Compared with the position 3 years ago, before EU exit dates changed and the end of the transition period, EU goods exports in September this year were £0.5bn lower than in September 2018.

In terms of imports in goods, it is striking that non-EU imports have been higher than EU imports for nine months in a row. But as the ONS points out, it is still too early to say whether this is being driven by more cyclical factors or by a reordering of supply chains in some commodities.

Non-EU goods imports were £3.2bn higher in September this year than 3 years ago, while EU goods imports were £2.5bn lower.”

Read the full ONS trade data release here