Non-EU imports overtook trade with the bloc last year

New data from the Office for National Statistics show the UK imported £222 billion worth of goods from the European Union last year after Brexit.

11 February 2022

The UK’s imports from non-EU countries overtook those from the bloc last year for the first time since records began.

New data from the Office for National Statistics show that the UK imported £222 billion worth of goods from the European Union last year after Brexit.

It is the lowest figure in more than half a decade and shows the clear impact of the UK’s Brexit vote on international trade.

Meanwhile imports from non-EU countries rose from £206 billion in 2020 to £254 billion last year.

It is the highest they have been since records began in 1997, according to ONS statistics.

The gap between EU and non-EU exports stayed more or less the same last year. The UK has exported more to outside the bloc every year since 2015.

Both imports and exports to countries both within and outside the EU, was significantly lower in 2021.

Apart from 2020, when the world was in the depths of Covid, neither imports nor exports have been this low since 2016.

Meanwhile, the trade deficit is widening, and hit its highest point on record last year.

The UK imported £156 billion more in 2021 than it exported, an increase of 20% on the year before and up significantly compared to previous years as well.

Although the UK has left the European Union, not all changes to the trading regime have yet come into force.

From July this year there will be new physical checks on plants, health certificates will be needed for animal products and all imports will need safety and security declarations.

From September and November, changes will also be made on diary and meat pizzas and ready meals, among other things.

Earlier this month the Prime Minister appointed Jacob Rees-Mogg into a new role to make the most of Brexit opportunities.

In 2018 he said that “the overwhelming opportunity for Brexit is over the next 50 years”.

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