Commenting on trade figures for May 2021, published today by the ONS, BCC Head of Trade Policy, William Bain, said:

The 8.8% increase in goods exports to the EU in May compared with April is welcome as economic demand picks up modestly in both the UK and EU. 

UK imports from the EU also rose in May by 0.8% compared with April, while there was a 3.4% fall in imports from outside the EU.

The overall trade deficit narrowed in the three months to May 2021, but the UK’s trade surplus in services also fell in the same time period. 

However, when comparing the 12 months up to May 2018 against the same period to May 2021 there has been a 13% fall in exports and imports from the EU to the UK. 

So, while we are seeing a modest pick-up in demand for UK goods in the last month as economies reopen, the overall climate remains fragile. 

The longer-term picture from this May compared with three years ago shows the effects the severe headwinds of the pandemic, rising raw material and shipping costs, and ongoing Brexit red tape are having on the ability of UK businesses to trade with EU customers.

Read the full ONS data here

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