Commenting on the latest ONS Trade data, Head of Trade Policy at the BCC William Bain, said:
“March 2022 saw a modest but welcome rise in UK exports led by an increase in sales of fuel. But the overall picture remains patchy compared with 3 or 4 years ago.
“Any trade war with the EU could threaten this nascent recovery, particularly in transport and automotive exports to the EU.
“Most of the UK’s largest trading partners have seen larger export growth since the depths of the pandemic and much work is still required for the UK to catch up.”
UK goods exports to the EU rose by £0.3bn (1.7%) in March 2022 driven by increases in fuel exports, although machinery and material manufactured goods exports both fell.
Exports to the rest of the world rose by £0.4bn (2.6%) again led by higher fuels sales. Goods imports data continued a far sharper recovery in March with a 9.9% rise in imports from the rest of the world and an 8.6% increase in those from the EU.
However, the trade deficit in goods and services for Q1 2022 reached its highest levels since modern records began in 1997 at £25bn (£23.6bn ex-inflation).
Taking Q1 2022, as a whole, compared with Q4 2022, presents a picture where exports to the EU continued to fall, by 0.8%, whereas exports to the rest of the world rose by 0.2%.
Compared with 3 years ago, exports to the EU and the rest of the world are both lower now. Only goods imports from the rest of the world have increased over that period.
Although compared with 2018 there has been a modest rise in goods exports of £0.8bn (£2.8bn).
More detail on the ONS Trade data can be found here.