11th February 2022 – Annual UK goods imports from outside the EU have surpassed the value of those from within it for the first time since ONS records began in 1997, according to analysis of the latest data from Ebury – the global non-bank leader in cross border finance for SMEs.
Imports from the UK’s nearest trading bloc totalled £22.2 billion compared to £25.4 billion from all other countries in 2021 as the end of the Brexit transition period combined with an increase in global fuel imports reversed the historical trend.
Cornelius Clarke, Head of Desk supporting UK SMEs with their international trading arrangements at global financial services firm, Ebury, said the figures were tangible proof of the impact of Brexit on the UK’s trading patterns.
“Evidently the end of the Brexit transition period has impacted trading relationships that many UK businesses have with their EU counterparts. Other factors at play were the restrictions faced by lorry drivers in response to the Alpha variant at the start of 2021 alongside global supply chain bottlenecks.
“Further terms of the Brexit trade agreement are still to be implemented which could provide greater headwinds to EU imports and it may be several years before the full impact is evident.
“However, imports from China reached an all-time high in 2021 despite the rise in shipping costs indicating that UK businesses are already diversifying their supply chains. The ongoing free-trade negotiations with India could also present a significant opportunity for UK importers too in lowering costs and barriers to trade with a rapidly growing global economic superpower.
“For UK businesses, it is vital that they have trusted partners in place to support their trading activities and help them move with speed to take advantage of emerging opportunities. With inflation and surging energy prices impacting businesses across the board, partners that create synergies by providing a one-stop shop across FX risk management, invoice financing and other treasury solutions will be in high demand.”