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Brexit celebration premature, says broker

[ May 13, 2021   //   ]

Non-EU imports have outstripped EU imports for the first time but that does not make Brexit a success, says broker ParcelHero. It says that latest government statistics show that non-EU imports have declined less alarmingly than those from the Union.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak told the BBC that the Government had invested ‘hundreds of millions of pounds to help businesses adjust to those new trading arrangements and support them in the process’.

However, ParcelHero said that UK importers were not now discovering new products and trading partners in markets beyond the EU.

Head of consumer research, David Jinks said that the trade figures released on 12 May show that imports from the EU fell by £14bn to £50.6bn in the first quarter compared to the final quarter of last year, before Brexit trading rules were imposed. Imports from non-EU countries also declined, but ‘only’ by £0.5bn, to £53.2bn.

He pointed out that British exports also declined significantly in the first quarter, by £7.1bn to £32.2bn, compared to the last quarter of 2020.

He said that Brexit regulations are having a significant impact on businesses with new customs duties and increased transport costs.

Jinks said: “The hastily cobbled-together UK-EU free trade agreement is simply not fit for purpose. Under the deal, goods flowing between the UK and the EU that are sourced and manufactured in the UK or Europe don’t have to pay tariffs. However, how many products are entirely sourced and made in a single area in today’s world of global supply chains? The answer is very few. Electronics, for example, incorporate components from across the globe, while clothing can include materials from many continents. Any products unable to prove all their sourcing meets the new regulations are likely to be slapped with new duties.”

On a brighter note, exports and imports both crept up by £2.3bn between February and March this year – perhaps a signal of a welcome increase in profits for exporters and more choice for shoppers.

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