Last reviewed 13 May 2022

The latest trade report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) notes that total UK exports of goods, excluding precious metals, increased by £0.6 billion (2.1%) in March 2022, driven by a £0.4 billion (2.6%) increase in exports to non-EU countries, while exports to EU countries increased by £0.3 billion (1.7%).

Responding to the report, British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Head of Trade Policy, William Bain, welcomed the “modest” rise in exports but warned that the overall picture remains patchy compared with three or four years ago.

“Any trade war with the EU could threaten this nascent recovery, particularly in transport and automotive exports to the EU,” he went on. “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 in March 2022 were driven by increases in fuel exports, he pointed out, although machinery and material manufactured goods exports both fell. Exports to the rest of the world were also 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 the first quarter (Q1) of 2022 reached its highest levels since modern records began in 1997 at £25 billion (£23.6 billion ex-inflation).

Compared with three years ago, Mr Bain concluded, 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.

The latest ONS bulletin can be found  here.