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UK trade finds new markets as it continues its recovery, ONS figures show
Official trade figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have shown that imports from non-EU countries have outstripped those from EU countries for the first time on record.
The first quarter of 2021 (January to March) is the first since records began in January 1997 that imports of goods from countries outside the EU have eclipsed those from inside the trade bloc, as trade begins to normalise following the end of the EU transition period.
“The significant point about this latest set of figures from the ONS,” said Ryan Barnett, Economics and Research Manager, Logistics UK, “is that it points to the UK looking to diversify the markets from which it imports goods.”
Other main points from the ONS report included the news that exports of goods to the EU, excluding precious metals, increased by £1 billion in March, while imports of goods grew by £0.8 billion. Both increases were primarily driven by the automotive sector.
Outside of the EU, the numbers were even more encouraging, with imports of goods from non-EU countries, excluding precious metals, increasing by £1.5 billion (8.4%), mainly driven by imports of clothing. Exports of goods to non-EU countries, excluding precious metals, increased by almost a tenth (9.9%). As with exports to EU countries, this growth was mainly driven by exports of cars.
Meanwhile the UK’s total trade deficit, excluding precious metals, narrowed by £8.4bn to £1.4bn, in the first quarter of this year.
“Some commentators have taken the figures for March 2021 as evidence that the UK economy is gathering speed, after shrinking in the first quarter of the year,” Barnett said. “While it may be too early to conclude that from one month’s set of figures alone, the numbers do look promising for UK trade, and certainly a good deal better than initially feared.”
Published On: 20/05/2021 17:00:19
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