British goods exports to the European Union rose to their highest since October 2019

Britain’s government is likely to view the data as backing its expectation that the change in customs arrangements would only cause temporary inconvenience to most businesses.

However, overall trade with the EU has lagged behind growth in sales to the rest of the world, and business groups said they still faced extra red tape dealing with European customers and suppliers as a result of Brexit.
“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 head of trade policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, William Bain, said after the data.

Britain’s Office for National Statistics said goods exports to the European Union, excluding precious metals, rose to 14.0 billion pounds ($19.4 billion) in May on a seasonally adjusted basis, their highest since October 2019 and almost twice January’s level.

Total goods exports of 27.9 billion pounds, excluding precious metals, were the highest since January 2020, just before the coronavirus pandemic began to cause disruption.

Imports from the EU have also risen after a slump at the start of the year, when COVID-19 disrupted traffic across the English Channel, although they remain slightly below imports from the rest of the world. Before 2021, Britain almost always sourced most of its imports from the EU.

The head of Britain’s biggest port – Dover – told Reuters trade disruption could return if British holidaymakers head for European summer breaks, adding to strain on stretched customs staff.

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