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UK trade gap with EU widens – data


The shortfall in the balance of trade with the bloc has reached nearly $40 billion, official statistics show

The UK’s trade deficit with the EU reached a new high in the final quarter of 2022 on increasing imports from the bloc, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed on Friday.

According to the report, the shortfall in the balance of trade in goods spiraled to £32.9 billion (almost $40 billion) in the three months to December – the largest gap since ONS records began in 1997.

Data showed that imports from the EU, excluding precious metals, jumped to an all-time high of £82 billion ($100 billion). Exports were £49.2 billion ($60 billion).

Goods imports increased by £1.6 billion ($2 billion) or 2.9% in December, while exports decreased by £800 million ($968 million) or 2.3%.

The statistics showed that, in December alone, the UK’s imports from the EU ascended to a new high of £28.5 billion ($34 billion). The jump was reportedly driven by a rise in purchases of machinery and transport equipment, particularly ships from Germany, and fuel.

“Brexit still is an important part of the picture, as it is continuing to hold exports back,” senior UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics Gabriella Dickens told Bloomberg, commenting on the data. “In real terms, UK exports of goods – excluding erratics – were 9.4% below their 2018 level, before Brexit and Covid-19 impacted the data,” she stated.

Bank of England policymaker Catherine Mann said earlier that Britain’s departure from the EU and the subsequent trade barriers have contributed to the inflation crisis in the country. “No other country chose to unilaterally impose trade barriers on its closest trading partners,” she said.

According to the ONS, the balance of total goods and services trade of the United Kingdom with the whole world slipped to a record low of -£11.4 billion (-$14 billion) in December, partly due to higher gas prices.

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