Economics: UK food exports to the EU fell by 59% in January

Date : 18 March 2021

The first data from ONS shows that UK food and drink imports from the EU fell by 21% between December 2020 and January 2021, presumably due to EU Exit.

The same source (ONS report Trade In Goods MRETS) shows an even steeper decline in UK food and drink exports to the EU – down 59% month-on-month.

This may be a consequence of buyers in the EU avoiding trade with the UK for fear of administrative difficulties.

Seafoods such as shellfish are especially affected by such issues and untreated UK shellfish have been blocked from the EU.

However, UK exports of shellfish to the EU were worth around £331m in 2020, compared with total food, drink and tobacco exports of over £12bn, so issues around seafood will not account for the whole of the drop in trade.

Maritime trade may also have been impacted by extreme weather in the first part of 2021 – if so, trade may pick up as weather improves.

Source: Trade In Goods MRETS, ONS, March 2021

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