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

“There has been a slight decrease in overall exports (by £0.6bn) which has been matched by a slight increase in imports (by £1bn).

“The export data has been driven by increased sales to the EU (by 1.2%) as demand picked up following the release of lockdowns and the unbundling of pre-Brexit stockpiles - as firms begin to reorder. By contrast non-EU exports fell by 5.6% between May and June this year.

“The rise in EU imports was largely down to more cars coming into the UK. By contrast car exports to non-EU countries saw falls over the last few months, partly explained by staff and semiconductor shortages.

Although most goods sectors saw rises in EU orders, the UK chemicals sector was a notable benefactor from the rise in EU exports due to the pickup in vaccination levels in the EU since Q1.

Compared with Q1 exports/imports of goods were up by 12% in second quarter of 2021. For EU trade exports were up 26% over that period and imports by 12%.

However, the overall trade deficit widened in Q2 2021 to £5.7bn, showing more action is needed to promote export-led growth.

Compared with Q2 2018, the last stable period before EU exit, total exports, including the EU, were down by 4.4% and imports by 2%. Comparing June 2021 with June 2018, total UK exports (including to the EU) were down by 7.4% and imports by 2%.

This is a further signal of the dampening effect on EU-UK trade caused by the move to the new trading arrangements under the TCA. We will continue to monitor this over the coming months as further data emerges.”

The full ONS Trade figures for June 2021 can be found here.