Official statistics confirmed January was difficult for the UK’s exporters and importers alike.
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) said January 2021 saw the biggest monthly fall in goods imports and exports since records began in January 1997.
The ONS cited a combination of factors, ranging from the end of the UK’s EU exit transition deal on 31 December 2020, to stockpiling ahead of that deadline. It didn’t reference the severe freight issues affecting the UK and other countries at present.
Imports of goods, excluding non-monetary goods and other precious metals, fell £8.9 billion (21.6%) in January, driven by a £6.6 billion (28.8%) fall in imports from the EU.
Exports of goods, excluding non-monetary gold and other precious metals, fell £5.3 billion (19.3%) in January 2021, because of a £5.6 billion (40.7%) fall in exports to the EU.
Non-EU imports fell too (by 12.7%) while exports grew to countries outside the EU, by 1.7%.